Joseph Stalin death mask cast fails to sell at auction

Joseph Stalin death mask Auctioneers John Taylors had hoped the mask would fetch up to £3,000.

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A cast of a Joseph Stalin death mask found in a Lincolnshire home has failed to sell at auction.

The cast was taken in bronze from the original plaster death mask by an art dealer who was visiting Moscow in 1990.

The man behind the mask

Joseph Stalin
  • Stalin was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili on 18 December 1879
  • After Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924, Stalin stepped into the role as leader of the Soviet Union and ruled for more than 25 years
  • In the 1930s his purge of 'enemies of the people' saw thousands executed and millions exiled to slave labour camps
  • He died of a stroke at his home in Moscow in 1953

Auctioneers John Taylors had expected the mask to fetch between £2,000 and £3,000.

Death masks began in Greece and Egypt to preserve the features of a person after their death. They were commonly associated with artists and composers.

James Leverack, director of the auctioneers, said: "We have sold some fairly macabre things in the past but nothing of this nature."

He added: "They came into our valuation clinic from the previous owner who had no idea what they were or who they were of.

"He didn't know too much about how they ended up in the family either."

Stalin's death mask was taken before his body was embalmed.

A similar mask and cast of Stalin's hands were sold at an auction last year in Shropshire for £3,600.

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