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Singer's cigarette end fail to find buyer - but Gainsbourg auction nets 35,000 euros

Serge Gainsbourg's former home in Paris
Serge Gainsbourg's former home in Paris Ludovic Dunod/RFI

There were no takers for four cigarette ends that had touched the lips of French singer Serge Gainsbourg when they went to auction on Thursday. A cassette of a never-recorded song also failed to find a buyer. But fans snapped up a gold bracelet, a telegram, a pair of shoes, a lithograph and other objects that had belonged to the Bohemian artiste at the auction in Nantes, western France.

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Gainsbourg's fag ends were on sale for a starting price of 500 euros but, although they excited interest before the auction, nobody stumped up the cash required to be able to place them on their mantlepiece.

To the astonishment of auctioneer Virginie Bertrand, a cassette of the song Unknown Producer, never recorded by Gainsbourg and only performed in public once - by his British girlfriend, Jane Birkin, accompanied by Gainsbourg on piano on TV - also didn't sell.

It may have been the starting price of 5,000 euros that put off the bidders or it may have been the outdated technology required to listen to it - it was recorded on a dictaphone.

Another cassette - of Gainsbourg playing the piano - did sell, however, having been put up for sale at the lower starting price of 1,000 euros.

Other items that found buyers included:

  • A gold bracelet that Gainsbourg was wearing when he died - 1,900 euros;
  • A telegram from the singer to Birkin - 1,800 euros;
  • A lithograph portrait of Birkin - 1,600 euros;
  • A pair of Repetto shoes - 1,000 euros;
  • A photo of the singer as a child - 800 euros.

Bertrand estimates that the sale netted 35,000 euros, lower than a sale at the same auction house in October 2012 that netted 62,350 euros.

An auction of gainsbourg memorabilia at Sotehrby's in Paris in 2011 raised 266,000 euros.

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