This ink and watercolor drawing by Ronald Searle shows prisoner of war Padre Noel Duckworth selling a Parker Pen to his Japanese prison guard. It is remarkable that Duckworth single-handedly could run a black market in Pudu Jail and use the proceeds to buy food for his fellow prisoners of war. Searle has done a fine job recollecting the event.
Sale B290212 Lot 247
Ronald SEARLE (1920-2011) Noel Duckworth selling a Parker pen to a Japanese guard in Pudu Jail
signed lower right and with signatures of other former prisoners
44 x 23cm; together with
BRADDON (Russell) The Naked Island, 1960 reprint, signed and inscribed by Noel Duckworth "Don't Believe It, Its All True! His X Mark" and "I Agree With The Above", Ronald Searle 25th April 1967 Cambridge
Note: Padre Noel Duckworth coxed the Cambridge rowing eight before the war and at the Battle of Batu Pahat was captured with the wounded whom he was tending. Duckworth was described as fearlessly outspoken yet could be very kind. He created a black market with the Japanese in the gaol selling them all sorts of things. He would use the proceeds to buy food for the inmates. The author Russell Braddon talks about Duckworth in his book The Naked Island (1952). This watercolour was sketched by Ronald Searle and presented to Duckworth when he appeared on "This is your life" for the BBC.
Sold for 4,600 GBP on February 29, 2012.
May 12, 2012 Update: This piece is currently offered for sale by London art dealer Chris Beetles in his exhibition Ronald Searle Remembered, May 22 - June 9, 2012 for 12,500 GBP. The full cost of the work purchased from Cheffins on Leap Day was 4,600 GBP plus a 23.4% buyer's premium for a total of 5,676 GBP. I'm going to arbitrarily estimate that the cost of the book at auction was 100 GBP of the hammer price (123 GBP with the buyer's premium) and the artwork the remaining 4,500 GBP (5,553 GBP with the premium, assuming a dealer would be exempted from any VAT on the buyer's premium). The dealer's markup on the artwork is then an estimated 125% above cost. By that same reckoning, the markup on the signed and inscribed book would be 184%. And that, my friend, is how you pay for gallery space in St. James's.
|Item 15, Ronald Searle Remembered catalogue, Chris Beetles Gallery, May 22 - June 9, 2012, page 17|
|Item 15, Ronald Searle Remembered exhibition sale price, Chris Beetles Gallery, May 22 - June 9, 2012|
|Item 14, Ronald Searle Remembered catalogue, Chris Beetles Gallery, May 22 - June 9, 2012, page 16|
|Item 14, Ronald Searle Remembered exhibition sale price, Chris Beetles Gallery, May 22 - June 9, 2012|
|Ronald Searle, Canon Noel Duckworth Selling a Parker Pen to a Japanese Guard in Pudu Gaol, Chris Beetles Gallery|
May 28, 2012 Update: The original artwork of Canon Noel Duckworth Selling a Parker Pen to a Japanese Guard in Pudu Gaol which was offered for sale by Chris Beetles at 12,500 GBP is now listed by the gallery as sold. The book, priced at 350 GBP, has disappeared from the website altogether.
Note: This blog's own most recent post on Ronald Searle's artwork can be found here.