Collectors looking for a piece of Cold War history will get their chance this weekend when a trove of real-life Soviet spy gadgets goes under the hammer at an auction in California.
Miniature cameras, microphones hidden in cigarette packs, pens, and rings, and even a poison-filled tooth are among the items to be auctioned at U.S.-based Julien’s Auctions on February 13.
This “is the world’s first and most comprehensive auction event offering some of the rarest and most important artifacts from the U.S, Soviet Union, and Cuba during the Cold War era ever to be assembled and offered at auction,” the auction house said in an announcement on its website.
The entire collection from New York’s short-lived KGB Espionage Museum, which opened in January 2019 but closed last year due to the pandemic, will be at the centerpiece of the auction, it says.
Among the various items available during the auction onsite in Beverly Hills and via the Internet will be devices used to store microfilm or other documents, including cuff links, high-heeled shoes, hollowed-out coins, and even a “rectal concealment capsule.”
Other items on sale include a fake tooth containing deadly cyanide and a replica of the umbrella used in 1978 in London to fatally poison Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov.
Alongside the gadgets, spy enthusiasts also will have the opportunity to acquire Cold War relics such as letters signed by Cuba’s communist revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
“From the entire KGB Espionage Museum collection to obscure U.S. and Soviet space-race artifacts to never-before-seen items from Cuba and their revolution, these stunning objects offer a fascinating look at the geopolitical, economic, and cultural upheaval of that time, whose impact resonates more than ever in this election year,” said Darren Julien, president and chief executive officer of Julien’s Auctions.
Other objects on sale relate to the U.S. space program, including vintage astronaut equipment and “footage of various fecal and urine collection devices being tested in low-gravity environments.”