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Brad Pitt, Archibald Knox and the bidding war at a Hampstead auction house

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 April 2014 | UPDATED: 17:34 10 April 2014

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

A Hampstead auction house was abuzz with excitement as a furious bidding war saw a prized lot sell for 10 times its estimate.

Archibald Knox cupArchibald Knox cup

But Hampstead Auctions in Heath Street has attempted to quash rumours that a certain Hollywood megastar may have helped to drive up the price.

The coveted item, a silver cup and cover produced by Manx designer Archibald Knox for Liberty and Co in 1901, sold for £42,000 as five telephone buyers competed with several in the room and online, against an estimate of £4,000-£6,000.

World-famous actor Brad Pitt is a known admirer of the designer and is believed to have amassed a collection of at least 15 Knox works, including a similar but enamelled cup.

It has also been suggested that Pitt and wife Angelina Jolie may have named their son Knox after the artist.

Yet Colin Smith, of Hampstead Auctions, cast doubt over any suggestion that the star played a part in the bidding war.

However, he did leave the door slightly ajar by refusing to identify the parties involved – and admitting that the actor would be unlikely to bid on his own behalf.

He told Heathman: “Knox is very much in vogue at the moment. He’s a very sought-after and highly collected artist and this is a fairly important piece of his, but we were not expecting it to do quite so well.

“For us to sell something like that, in a small hall in Hampstead, shows we really are competing with much bigger houses – it’s a feather in our cap.”

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