A Sotheby's auction of literary items in New York on Tuesday saw a rare 16th century erotic polemic soar far above a buzzed-about first edition of F. Scott's Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," offered on the heels of this summer's hit film.
French feminist Louise Labé's erotic polemic catapulted to $485,000, from an estimate of just $3,000 to $5,000. Published in 1555 and her only book, the Labe lot was finely bound and the sole copy to come to auction since 1976.
"The Great Gatsby," dubbed the Great American Novel, was a first edtion that was owned by writer Malcolm Cowley. It sold for $112,500, within the estimated range. Fitzgerald's lesser-known "Flappers and Philosophers" went for $118,750, well above the estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. The copy retained a fine, early dustjacket.
One casualty of the overall robust sale was William Faulkner's Nobel Prize. With an estimate of $500,000 to $1 million, it went unsold.