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David Redden, Who Brought Ingenuity to the Auction Block, Dies at 75

One hundred seventy-five cookie jars that belonged to Andy Warhol. The bat that Babe Ruth carried in his last appearance at Yankee Stadium. A piano plinked by Dooley Wilson, as Sam, in “Casablanca.” The Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry.

David N. Redden, an innovative auctioneer and a dapper presence at the podium, sold them all in a 42-year career at Sotheby’s. He also sold the Magna Carta, James Naismith’s original rules of basketball, a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence found behind a $4 flea-market painting, and the world’s most expensive book, stamp and coin.

Mr. Redden, who specialized in rare manuscripts, collectibles, memorabilia and celebrity bric-a-brac — and also in generating excitement around such objects, turning auctions into high entertainment — died on May 11 at his home in Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y. He was 75.

His wife, Jeannette Redden, said the cause was complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., which he had for nine years.

As a vice chairman of Sotheby’s, and as its longest-serving auctioneer, Mr. Redden had a touch of P.T. Barnum in his flair for dreaming up novel items to sell and romanticizing them with a story that attracted publicity, bidders and simply looky-loos to Sotheby’s galleries on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He organized many of Sotheby’s most famous sales.

“David Redden had a vision for presenting things to make them larger than life,” Benjamin Doller, the chairman of Sotheby’s for the Americas, said in an interview. “He was a great auction impresario.”

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