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Arsenij Avraamov's best-known creation appeared involved the Caspian port of Baku [Bakı, capital of Azerbaijan], for the Fifth Anniversary of the Soviet Republic on 7 November 1922. A spectacular, called the Symphony of the Factory Sirens, used the services of a huge cast of choirs (joined by spectators), the foghorns of the entire Soviet Caspian flotilla, two batteries of artillery guns, a number of full infantry regiments (including a machine-gun division) hydroplanes, and all the factory sirens of Baku. Conductors posted on specially built towers signaled various sound units with colored flags and pistol shots. A central "steam-whistle machine" pounded out "The Internationale" and "La Marseillaise" as noisy "autotransports" (half-tracks) raced across Baku for a gigantic sound finale in the festival square.
Coins millionaire bankrupted by a $1.2m music box
Eventually,the successful coin dealer had a mansion built to his specifications - in the style of a British palace, no less,complete with trappings such as chandeliers made from Venetian glass. Today, Yaffe admits that the house was probably a mistake. But it wouldn't be his biggest mistake.
In 1994, the coin obsessive developed a new passion: antique music machines. Yaffe undertook his unusual new hobbywith characteristic dedication: buying PIANOLAS, ORCHESTRONS, MUSIC BOXES and other devices. He joined Music Box Society International and spent hundreds of thousands of dollar sat auction on machines dating from the end of the 19th Century to WW2.
Soon after, Yaffe coaxed a German collector into parting with his VIOLINA (an automated piano with attached violins) for $450,000. Hethen restored it, bringing the value up to $1m. But Yaffe's new hobby was already leading him to compromise his other assets. First, he sold his Ferrari and moved to a relatively small house. But, unlike numismatics,Yaffe's obsession with self-playing pianos and the like was taking up too much space.
To solve the problem, the wealthy collector decided to build a 29,000 square feet house built around a 3,000 square feet central hall. He filled the hall with music machines, some over 12 feet tall (one even featured a miniature Cambodian tightrope-walking dancer). Yaffe's acquisitions were growing in price; including a $1.2m Hupfeld Helios, a cabinet containing 256 pipes that mimic clarinets, flutes, cellos and other instruments. He then paid a staggering $1.3m on top of the $1.2m purchase price, to have the Hupfeld restored.
And then the recession happened.
Yaffe, like many others, was simply spending too hard against his sizeable income. His bank's demands for the repayment of a $35m loan forced him put his house on the market (for $25m)and attend hearings to discuss bankrupty.
On October 7th, Bonhams New York will present a special auction devoted to Vintage mechanical musical instruments and automata. Featuring a number of rare turn-of-the-century ORCHESTRIONS, including $4 million of property from the famed Mark Yaffe Collection, this sale is cause for huge excitement in collecting circles.
An orchestrion is a generic name for a machine that plays music and is designed to sound like an orchestra or band. For inside the magnificent cases, real working musical instruments are played entirely by machine. Orchestrions are most often operated by means of perforated paper rolls. In some cases these mechanical musical machines can also be operated by book music made from thick panels of cardboard held together with canvas.
Orchestrions reached the height of their popularity in the early1920’s during the advent of the Jazz Age, with popular German and other European makers such as Hupfeld, Weber, Philipps, and Popper modernizing their works to reflect the popular Bauhaus designs.
The Mark Yaffe pieces are sure to be amongst the most highly sought after lots in the sale, which is set to be the best held in New York since 1950.
Highlighting the Yaffe collection is a circa 1925 Hupfeld Helios III/39 Orchestrion (est. $800,000-1,200,000); a circa 1926 Weber Maestro Orchestrion (est. $500,000-750,000); a circa 1915 Philipps Paganini Style 3 Orchestrion offered with 300 re-cut rolls (est. $400,000-600,000); a circa 1912 Popper Iduna Orchestrion (est. $200,000-300,000); and a circa 1894 Mermod Freres Plerodieniqué Interchangeable cylinder musical box offered with 20 cylinders (est. $60,000-90,000). antiquespublicity.com...
The palatial Avila estate built by former gold dealer Mark Yaffe has been sold for $5.58 million, 78 percent less than its original asking price of $25 million. At $193 a square foot — well below that for most upscale properties — the total price still ranks as the second-highest paid for any home
or condo in the Tampa Bay area this year. ...Last month's sale came five years after Yaffe's National Gold Exchange, once one of the world's largest precious coin dealers, declared bankruptcy with $36 million in debts.