Franz Kafka Passport At Auction (update)
SOLD for $37.500 including premium!
KAFKA’S PASSPORT used in the last two years of his life and hitherto an unknown survival. A tremendously personal and evocative item of bureaucratic residue, the passport bears Kafka’s written name five times (including his signature), specifies various locations in Germany and Austria, and gives Kafka’s physical description and profession as an insurance officer.
The provenance is excellent. Robert Klopstock (1899-1972) was a close friend of Kafka. They were both being treated for lung ailments outside Vienna and Klopstock is known to have been at Kafka’s side when he died. Salman Schocken (1877-1959) is best-known for being Kafka’s publisher. The Nazis closed Schocken Books in 1939 and Salman Schocken moved first to Palestine and then to New York in 1945. Klopstock made it to New York in 1938 and transmitted this passport to Schocken in 1946. Schocken was an inimitable collector, he also acquired Kafka’s letters to Felice Bauer (which sold at Sotheby’s in 1987). However, this item he gave to his friend Gerda Schulz (1915-2013), a fellow Jewish refugee and one-time employee, whose family is the current owner. Presumably it was Schocken who removed the photograph, perhaps for use in one of his Kafka publications.
I wonder if the estimate $10k to $15k will be reached for a document in such a condition. Will watch out for it and will report…