A pope’s jewels, a president’s hair, another offing of the Aspen Antiques and Fine Arts Fair

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Pope Paul VI's diamong ring, later owned by Evel Knievel, is among the items for sale at the Aspen Antiques and Fine Arts Fair.
M.S. Rau Antiques/Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: Aspen Antiques and Fine Arts Fair

Where: Aspen Ice Garden

When: Saturday, July 2 through Sunday, July 10; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

How much: Free; $20/suggested donation. : Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Shining Stars Foundations

More info:

In Aspen, it seems, even going antiquing is extreme.

Starting today at the 13th annual Aspen Antiques and Fine Arts Fair, a patriotic collector looking to celebrate Independence Day weekend can pick up, say, a lock of George Washington’s hair, or a set of tablespoons made by Paul Revere, Jr. or Benjamin Franklin’s cane, or some campaign swag from Abraham Lincoln’s bids for the presidency.

Looking for some bling and have $9.85 million burning a hole in your pocket? There’s the 10.06-carat Royal Blue Diamond Ring. Or a 5.25-carat fancy pink diamond ring for $4.95 million.

Maybe you’ve always wanted a holy ring owned by the Pope? Or some of daredevil Evel Knievel’s signature jewelry? Kill two birds with one heavily bejeweled stone: the fair has Pope Paul VI’s 13.5-carat-center diamond ring and 60-gem cross that later fell into Evel’s hands ($1.9 million for the pair).

Such are the over-the-top offerings at the annual art fair at the Aspen Ice Garden, which also includes more standard antique offerings and blue-chip artwork. The fair gathers more than 30 antique shops, galleries and jewelers from across the U.S. and overseas. Admission to take a look at it all is free, though there’s a $20 suggested donation and all donations go toward the Aspen-based Shining Stars Foundation.

“It’s like a museum,” Scott Fetzer said the fair’s producer. “You never know what you’re going to see. It always amazes me — one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

Fetzer, who lives in Aspen Village, said the fair usually does sell some of its big-ticket collectibles, with the fair drawing high-end collectors based in or visiting Aspen.

“The high-end collectors, they’re always looking for very specific things,” he said. “And they want to be educated more and more.”

In recent years, the fair has been criticized by Aspen gallerists and antique dealers for taking away business from local shops (just one local dealer is listed among this year’s exhibitors and it is Fetzer). But Fetzer counters that he has always welcomed local shops to buy a booth or wall space at the fair as a marketing tool for their businesses.

“They’re always welcome,” he said. “All they have to do is pick up the phone. And they’re not going to pay anything near what they pay in advertising.”