Haul of James Bond-style gadgets goes up for sale in New York auction

From Russia with Love: ‘Kiss of death’ gun disguised as lipstick and a purse with a hidden camera among haul of James Bond-style KGB gadgets up for sale in California auction

  • California auction house Julien’s will sell the roughly 400 lots from Jan. to Feb.
  • Most of the devices were deployed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War 
  • Gun designed to look like tube of lipstick ($1,200) probably used in the bedroom
  • Camera-purse from 1950s ($3,500) captures photos with secret emblem button

A ‘kiss of death’ lipstick gun and a purse with a hidden camera are among the haul of James Bond-style gadgets going up for sale in a New York auction.

Most of the devices were deployed by the Soviet Union and her comrades in the Cold War against the US and look as if they came from the imagination of ‘From Russia, with Love’ author Ian Fleming.

California auction house Julien’s will sell the roughly 400 lots – online and then in-person from mid-January to February 13, 2021. 

Highlights include the gun designed to look like lipstick estimated at up to $1,200; a hotel-room eavesdropping bug from 1964 valued at $500 and the purse from the 1950s with a hidden Leica camera valued at $3,500.   

The ‘kiss of death’ gun designed to look like a tube of lipstick is valued at $1,200 and made to fire a single shot of a 0.177 calibre bullet – most likely in the bedroom. It was issued to female agents of the KGB and this example was obtained during random border check between East and West Germany in 1965

An original Soviet KGB Fialka (M-125-3M) or ‘Violet’ cipher machine used during the Cold War to code and decode secret messages, with an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. The device uses 10 rotors, each with 30 contacts along them with mechanical pins to control the stepping. The Fialka contains a tape reader on its right side and a paper punch and printing mechanism on the left. This model, the M-125-3MN, had distinct typewheels for Latin and Cyrilic text

One of the first transistorized stationary microphone listening devices or ‘bugs’ with an adjustable frequency, circa 1964, valued at $500. The antenna is seen on the left, the microphone filter also on the left, frequency locking screws are in the center and an external power source was connected to the two pins on the right. Measuring just three inches, the circuitry is very basic with a single transistor, a coil and a couple of passive components

A replica of the type of umbrella believed to have been used to carry out the infamous assassination of Bulgarian author Georgie Markov, valued at around $3,000. The dissident writer was assassinated in September, 1978 in London, with a micro-engineered pellet containing ricin, fired into his leg from an umbrella wielded by someone associated with the Bulgarian Secret Service

A Soviet KGB spy purse known as ‘The Fly’ used by female operatives, designed to hold a concealed FED camera – its value is estimated at $3,500. The camera – absolutely tiny for its period – was capable of capturing very high resolution images so that intelligence could be carried out and targets identified

An emblem on the side of the purse, shaped like a fly, opens up to allow the camera to capture an image – hence the item’s name ‘The Fly’

A rare steel wire recorder believed to have been produced and used by the Soviet GRU spy agency

The items were recently on display at the KGB Espionage Museum in Manhattan, New York – a private museum opened in January 2019 by Lithuanian historian Julius Urbaitis that has closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The lipstick gun was designed for single shot of a 0.177 calibre bullet.

Its existence was discovered during random border check between East and West Germany in 1965 and was used by female agents, most likely in the bedroom.

Other items are a rare Soviet version of the Enigma code cipher machine known as the Fialka with an estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.

The replica of syringe umbrella believed to have been used to carry out the assassination of Markov is valued at around $3,000.

He was assassinated in September, 1978, with a micro-engineered pellet containing ricin, fired into his leg from an umbrella wielded by someone associated with the Bulgarian Secret Service.

It has been speculated the KGB gave assistance.

A vintage 453 kilo carved stone sculpture of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin that stood in the headquarters of the KGB in Kaliningrad is valued at $7,000.

A 1,000 pound bust of Vladimir Lenin hand-carved out of white stone. The bust stood on the premises of the KGB headquarters in Kaliningrad but was eventually secreted across the border into Latvia. It is valued at $7,000

An original Soviet KGB Fialka (M-125-3M) or ‘Violet’ cipher machine used during the Cold War to code and decode secret messages

A Soviet ‘infected’ sign. These signs were used along railway lines to indicate to crew and passengers that they were passing through a radioactive sector, chemical attack zone, or diseased area

A Soviet KGB spy pistol used by female operatives and designed to look like a tube of lipstick

The interior of the camera-purse known as ‘The Fly’

One of the first transistorized stationary microphone listening devices or ‘bugs’ with an adjustable frequency, circa 1964

A machine used by border guards to detect people hiding in vehicles could fetch $1,200.

A Nazi WWII phone tap device is estimated at $2,500, while an original steel door from a former KGB prison hospital could go for $700.

A vintage railroad ‘Infected Area’ warning sign is valued at $150.

The Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 was a seismic moment in Cold War history as the threat of war loomed during the tense 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union over the installation of

nuclear armed Soviet missiles on Cuba.

Hundreds of pieces, some never before seen at auction, that tell the history of the island nation located 90 miles from the U.S., its struggles and uprising against their government in 1959, led by the Cuban Revolutionaries Fidel Castro and Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.

A device called ‘Lavanda-M’ designed to identify if people were hiding in vehicles. Used by the KGB at checkpoints and border crossings, the device could detect the types of vibrations and micro movements produced by the human heartbeat as well as breathing


A replica of the type of umbrella believed to have been used to carry out the infamous assassination of Bulgarian author Georgie Markov (left) and an original steel door for room number 13 from a former KGB prison hospital

A replica of the type of umbrella believed to have been used to carry out the infamous assassination of Bulgarian author Georgie Markov

Highlights include Che Guevara’s high school report card $1,000-$1,500 and a signed 1958 letter from

Fidel Castro discussing plans to infiltrate the capital city of Havana, estimated at $1,000-$1,500.

Auctioneer Darren Julien said: ‘These extraordinary items taken out of the secret archives and vaults from the U.S., Russia and Cuba will add tremendous value to any collection from world class museums to any history buff’s private trove. ‘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.’ 

A poisoned umbrella tip and radioactive tea: How Russian spies have died in the UK

It was one of the most audacious acts of the Cold War which could have come straight from the pages of a spy novel.

In 1978, Georgi Markov was jabbed with an umbrella which fired a poison pellet into his leg as he crossed Waterloo Bridge in London while he waited for a bus.

He died three days later – and for almost 40 years, mystery has surrounded the whereabouts of his killer. 

Georgi Markov was jabbed with an umbrella which fired a poison pellet into his leg

A replica of the umbrella that a KGB agent used in 1978 to kill the Bulgarian dissident

Ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London in 2006, a killing which a judge said was probably approved by President Vladimir Putin.

The defector died after two agents slipped radioactive polonium 210 into his tea pot at a Mayfair hotel in central London.

The 43-year-old had been an officer with the Federal Security Service (FSB), but he fled to Britain where he became a fierce critic of the Kremlin. 

He died after an agonising six-day battle in hospital.

Ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London in 2006 when a radioactive substance was poured into his tea pot at a Mayfair hotel

Alexander Perepilichnyy, a key witness in a £140million tax fraud investigation, collapsed while jogging outside his £3million mansion in Weybridge, Surrey, in November 2012.

The Russian had ingested gelsemium – a very rare toxic plant found only in China, a coroner heard. 

Tests carried out by leading botanist Professor Monique Simmonds of Kew Gardens found a chemical in Mr Perepilichnyy’s stomach that could come only from a variety of gelsemium – a known method of assassination by Chinese and Russian contract killers.  

Alexander Perepilichnyy collapsed while jogging outside his £3million mansion in Weybridge, Surrey, in November 2012

A radiation expert who investigated the ‘assassination’ of Alexander Litvinenko was found dead in a mysterious suicide five months after a trip to Russia.

Matthew Puncher, 46, bled to death at his home from multiple stab wounds inflicted by two knives in his home in Drayton, Oxfordshire in May 2016.

A pathologist said he could not ‘exclude’ the possibility that someone else was involved in the death – but concluded the injuries were self-inflicted. 

Radiation expert Matthew Puncher, who investigated the ‘assassination’ of Alexander Litvinenko, was found dead in a mysterious suicide in May 2016

Boris Berezovsky, was found dead in his in Berkshire bathroom with a ligature round his neck in March 2013.

His friends in the secret service say he planned to give Putin evidence of a plot involving oligarchs to topple the strongman in a coup. 

Theory has it that the exiled Russian tycoon was slain by Western secret services linked to the plan to overthrow the Kremlin leader. 

A coroner recorded an open verdict saying he either took his own life or he was killed and the scene was staged to look self-inflicted.

Boris Berezovsky, was found dead in his in Berkshire bathroom with a ligature round his neck in March 2013 but the coroner recorded an open verdict 

Bankrupt property tycoon Scot Young was the fifth member of a close circle of friends to die in unusual circumstances.

The 52-year-old suffered fatal injuries after falling from a window on to railings after being hounded over debts by Russian mafia members.  

They had previously dangled him out of a window at the Dorchester Hotel, in Park Lane, threatening to drop him next time if he did not pay up, his close friend alleged. 

Mr Young, who was once worth an estimated £400m, claimed to have lost his fortune when a vast Russian property deal, known as Project Moscow, collapsed in 2006. 

Bankrupt property tycoon Scot Young (pictured right) suffered fatal injuries after falling from a window on to railings after being hounded over debts by Russian mafia members

Meanwhile in 2012, German Gorbuntsov survived despite being shot several times with a sub-machine gun on the Isle of Dogs in East London.

The Russian banker allegedly had evidence relevant to the attempted murder of Russian billionaire Alexander Antonov.

In 2016, former Russian double agent Colonel Alexander Poteyev, who exposed glamour spy Anna Chapman, died in the US.

Mr Poteyev had overseen the Russian sleeper agents in the US as a deputy head of the ‘S’ department of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service.

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