John Le Carré’s jukebox, furniture and effects head to auction

The contents sale of Tregiffian in Cornwall will give buyers the chance to own the writing desk, and other items, of the late great master of spy fiction.

‘A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world,’ said the master of spy fiction John Le Carré. Eager fans of Le Carré (and wise old spymasters too) might agree and may also take the opportunity to own the very desk, tables, chairs and other personal effects from which David Cornwell (Le Carré’s real name) watched the world.

Provincial Louis XV fruitwood commode. Estimated at £1,000–£2,000. Credit: Roseberys

Today (March 20) at Roseberys London, more than 90 lots from the Cornish estate of Cornwell will go under the hammer, as part of the auction house’s Fine & Decorative sale. The contents come from his former home at Tregiffian, which came up for sale in September of 2023.

Tregiffian Cottage, Le Carré’s long-time home. Credit: Savills

Using the paycheck from his best-selling book The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, he bought the cottage and 27 acres of surrounding land, where he spent the rest of his life until his death in 2021, allegedly charming ‘the armies of interviewers who came to his cliff-top home’. 

Furniture and items from the interiors will make up the bulk of the sale. Credit: Savills

There are many highlights from the sale, but we shall begin with the jukebox. A Wurlitzer ‘Super Star’ juke box model 3600, it aches of the early Cold War, although it does require professional restoration to get it working again.

Wurlitzer Super Star jukebox. Estimate £250–£350. Credit: Roseberys

Other highlights include a provincial Louis XV fruitwood serpentine commode, estimated to between £1,000 – £2,000 and a George II green japanned longcase clock, estimated at £1,800 – £2,500.

George II green japanned longcase clock. Estimate £1,800–£2,500. Credit: Roseberys

‘It is exciting to offer a highly personal collection giving buyers a tantalising link to the creative space of such a respected writer,’ said Anna Evans, head of sale & specialist, fine & decorative at Roseberys. ‘Highlights of this fresh to the market collection include beautiful statuary from the stunning gardens of Tregiffian, striking furniture and clocks.’

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