Highlights from the Julien auction include Che Guevara's (above) high school report card and a signed 1958 letter from Fidel Castro discussing plans to infiltrate the capital city of Havana. Credit: Julien auctions.

Fans of Cold-War, James Bond-esque espionage gadgets, might want to attend this fascinating Julien’s California auction.

These authentic spy artifiacts were part of a display at the KGB Espionage Museum in New York — a private museum opened in 2019 by Lithuanian historian Julius Urbaitis that has closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Agence France-Presse reported.

Julien’s said the auction will be the “world’s first and most comprehensive auction event offering some of the rarest and most important artifacts from the US, Soviet Union and Cuba during the Cold War era ever to be assembled and offered at auction.”

Some 400 artifacts will be sold online and then in-person from mid-January to February 13, 2021.

Among the items are a gun designed to look like a tube of lipstick, a purse with a hidden camera, and a hotel-room listening device used by Soviet intelligence.

“We are not aware of any similar auction for this genre. There is going to be a massive follow up on this because people are so fascinated by all this,” said Julien’s CFO Martin Nolan.

This gun was designed to look like a tube of lipstick fired a single shot of a 0.177 calibre bullet. It was issued to female agents of the KGB and this example was obtained during a random border check. Credit: Julien’s auctions.

According to the auction house, more than 400 lots will be on offer such as clandestine operative cameras, counter-intelligence detectors, morse code machines, airplane radars, voice recorders and official government documents.

Special highlights include a gun designed to look like a tube of lipstick, a secret hotel-room listening device or “bug” from 1964, a rare Soviet version of the Enigma code cipher machine known as the Fialka, and a replica of the deadly syringe umbrella believed to have been used to carry out the assassination of Bulgarian author Georgie Markov.

There is also a vintage one-thousand-pound carved stone sculpture of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin that stood in the headquarters of the KGB in Kaliningrad, a purse with a hidden camera and shutter apparatus and a machine used by border guards to detect people hiding in vehicles.

An emblem located on the side of this KGB spy purse, shaped like a fly, opens up to allow the camera to capture an image. Credit: Julien’s auctions.

Highlights from the Cuban era include Che Guevara’s high school report card and a signed 1958 letter from Fidel Castro discussing plans to infiltrate the capital city of Havana.

Also on auction, a rare presentation sword given to African American military officer, Captain William Roderick Staff, who fought in Cuba, most notably in the Battle of San Juan Hill, in Company “C” of the 24th Infantry, a “colored” unit composed primarily of African-Americans (one of the original “Buffalo Soldier” regiments).

Numerous relics of the US and Soviet space race will go under the hammer, including the original NASA designed and constructed spacesuit transporter from the Mobile Biological Isolation System (MBIS) created for David Vetter in 1977 and was the inspiration for the Emmy nominated film The Boy in The Plastic Bubble starring John Travolta.

Also, a camera designed for use on the Moon Rover vehicle, a space flown NASA T-shirt and shorts worn by astronaut Donn Eisele on Apollo VII and a Soviet space program coffee tube signed by Vostok 3 cosmonaut Andriyan Nikolayev and more.


One of the first transistorized stationary KGB microphone listening devices or ‘bugs’ with an adjustable frequency, circa 1964. Credit: Julien’s auctions.