Eight-line ode to friend penned in March 1942 bought by unnamed online bidder for more than four times reserve price
HAARLEM, Netherlands — A very rare handwritten poem by Jewish diarist Anne Frank was sold for €140,000 (NIS 575,000; $150,000) to an unnamed online bidder Wednesday, fetching more than four times its reserve price.
Auctioneers closed the sale after just two minutes of tense bidding at the Bubb Kuyper auction house in the western Dutch city of Haarlem.
Around 20 collectors took their seats in a sales room decorated with antique books, maps and illustrations while others bid by telephone and online.
The reserve price was set at €30,000 (NIS 123,000; $32,000).
“These things are so rare that I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bubb Kuyper co-director Thys Blankevoort said. “Over the last 40 years, only four or five documents signed by the teenager have gone under the hammer.”
“Any document that’s written by Anne Frank is rare,” he told AFP Monday, “there are some chance finds, some books from the libraries. But these are not manuscripts, they are owner entries,” he added, referring to books which have been found with Frank’s name written inside.
Dedicated to “Dear Cri-cri,” the poem, written in Dutch in black ink on a notebook-size piece of white paper which has slightly discolored with age, is signed “in memory, from Anne Frank.”
Frank wrote the eight-line poem, dated March 28, 1942, in a friendship book belonging to the older sister of her best friend only three months before she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.
The poem was sold by Jacqueline van Maarsen, Frank’s primary school friend, who over the years has worked to keep her pal’s story alive. Frank also wrote a poem in Jacqueline’s book, but she is too attached to it to sell it, Blankevoort said.
While the first four lines of the text are well-known among such poems “written by girls, for girls,” the auction house has so far not traced the origins of the final four lines.
“The second half might possibly even be composed by” Anne Frank, Blankevoort acknowledged. It follows the vein of such poems which often contained a moral about love and friendship, calling on girls to work hard and be diligent.
A series of letters between Anne and her sister Margot with American penpals sold for $165,000 in 1988. And a 1925 edition of Grimm’s fairy tales, with both girls’ names written on the title page, went for $62,500 in May in a New York auction — fetching twice the estimated price.
The text, written in Dutch and translated by the Daily Mail, reads in full:
If you did not finish your work properly,
And lost precious time,
Then once again take up your task
And try harder than before.
If others have reproached you
For what you have done wrong,
Then be sure to amend your mistake.
That is the best memory one can make.
“The Diary of a Young Girl,” which Frank penned while in hiding from June 1942 to August 1944, has sold more than 30 million copies in 67 languages.
She and her sister Margot died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in early 1945 less than a year after the Nazis captured her and just before the end of World War II.