Chess pieces from Bergman film sell for $143,000

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The chess pieces used in Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 movie “The Seventh Seal” were sold at auction for 1 million Swedish crowns ($143,300) on Monday, said auction house Bukowski’s.

It said 337 items belonging to Bergman, who died in 2007 at the age of 89, were auctioned in Stockholm for a total of 18 million crowns -- about ten times the starting price.

The items included film prizes and awards, a bedside table with notes in Bergman’s handwriting and a desk at which he wrote many of his scripts.

In “The Seventh Seal,” a crusader played by Max von Sydow delayed his demise by challenging Death, played by Bengt Ekerot, to a game of chess.

The chess pieces were sold for more than 50 times the estimate despite lacking the white king, which was damaged when the film was made.

“This exceeds all expectations,” said Carl Barkman, head curator at Bukowski’s, which arranged the auction.

There was high interest in the auction. About 8,000 people came to see the items and Bukowski’s webpage had visitors from more than 100 countries in the days up to the auction.

“This is above all a testimony to how great he still is and how proud we should be of our Ingmar Bergman,” said Barkman.

U.S. director Woody Allen has called Bergman “probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera.”

Bergman directed more than 50 films including “Cries and Whispers,” “Hour of the Wolf” and “Wild Strawberries” and more than 100 theater plays.

Of four Swedish movies that have won an Oscar award for best foreign language film, Bergman directed three -- “The Virgin Spring,” “Through a Glass Darkly” and “Fanny and Alexander.”

($1=6.978 Swedish Crown)

Reporting by Sven Nordenstam