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Estate of the film producer Hercules Bellville up for auction at Holloway's of Banbury
Jim Dine, Pink heart on green background, oil on canvas, signed and dated '68 in red verso and dedicated 'for Hercules Bellville, London, 1968, J.D.'
BANBURY.- What could genuinely be described as a haul of undiscovered treasures will be offered by the provincial auction house Holloway’s on Tuesday 5 March at their sale rooms in Banbury. In this remarkable sale, Holloway’s will auction the collection of the late Hercules Bellville (1939 – 2009), affectionately known as ‘Herky’ to his many friends. Bellville’s great charm and talent as a film producer encouraged close friendships with some of the most impressive and extraordinary characters of the 20th century. His passion for collecting interesting objects of all kinds also led him to acquire some highly important works, often gifted to him by the artists themselves.

One highlight of the sale is an oil-on-canvas painting of a pink heart on a green background by Jim Dine (b. 1935), given to Bellville by the artist and so inscribed on the back. This is an iconic example of Dine’s oeuvre and has never before been sold, on the market or otherwise.

It has an estimate of £6000-8000 and is sold alongside the palette of Jim Dine dedicated verso “for Herc / from Jimmy / London / 1987” (Estimate £600-800) and several other inscribed and signed prints by Dine.

Other art highlights include ‘Shipboard Girl’ by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), which is estimated at £8000-£12000. Also for sale is an important oil on canvas work entitled 'American Interior No 1' (1968), by Erró (Gudmundur Gudmundsson, Icelandic, b. 1932) as well as a number of prints by the same artist. The painting was almost certainly acquired directly from Erró and was used as the cover for the programme of a 1973 National Theatre play entitled 'The Party'. It carries an estimate of £8000-12000. Also, ‘MOCA Torso’ by Robert Graham will be amongst other Graham sculptures offered in the sale.

Other parts of Bellville’s collection for sale include signed and inscribed photographs from film stars including one from Bette Davis; prints by Ed Ruscha (b. 1937), Dennis Hopper (1936 – 2010), and Ralph Goings (b. 1928) among others; posters and prints including Art Nouveau works by Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) and Paul Berthon (1872–1909); and modern Chinese propaganda posters.

Bellville, a close family friend of Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961), also possessed signed books from Hemingway, two of which go on sale, and signed and inscribed photographs of Hemingway and of legendary bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez (1932 – 1998) in action.

Bellville, who died in 2009, has been described as ‘one of the most extraordinary and best-loved characters in the parade of European and American cinema in the last 40 years’. Born to an eccentric Englishman and the daughter of an American diplomat, Bellville’s upbringing was international and never lacking in glamour or drama. As a boy, he appeared as an extra in The Reluctant Debutante and spent summers with Ernest Hemingway and Antonio Ordóñez.

Bellville met Roman Polanski in 1964 and so began a long and creative professional relationship. Bellville worked on a large number of Polanski’s titles before acting as associate producer of The Tenant in 1976. In the 80s, Bellville collaborated with Jeremy Thomas, becoming a director of his company and working on films such as The Last Emperor. For the next 24 years Bellville attended to the likes of Terry Gilliam, David Cronenberg, Johnny Depp, Bertulocci, Ray Winstone and Philip Noyce.

Perhaps particularly relevant to the Holloway’s sale of Bellville’s collection, is the following extract from an obituary published by The Telegraph:

“As a seasoned producer, Bellville garnered an encyclopaedic knowledge of film, as well as a polymath's understanding and earnest appreciation of art, architecture and literature. An insatiable traveller, he startled his future wife by arriving in Mexico (where they met) with 30 guidebooks.

His eccentricities endeared him to friends. At home he kept an antique cabinet full of miniature rubber ducks; and at a black-tie function at the Cannes Film Festival in the 1990s he typically teamed an immaculate dinner jacket with kung-fu slippers and a bow tie carved from brightly-painted Australian hardwood.”





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