The great ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky's unexpurgated diary, written in 1918 and 1919, when he was on the brink of madness, sold at a Sotheby's auction yesterday for $104,400 after a group of ballet dancers failed in their attempt to buy the diary to prevent its publication.
The manuscript, in pencil and ink and filling three exercise books, contains erotic passages about Nijinsky's stormy relationship with Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev. It reflects the tortured mind of a genius during the last months of creative activity before his lapse into insanity. Nijinsky died in April 1950.
His wife, Romola found the manuscript in a trunk in 1934 and edited it for publication, removing passages which are now restored.
As the star of Diaghilev's company, Nijinsky created a sensation in Paris before World War I, but his relationship with Diaghilev ended abruptly when he married a young dancer, Romola de Pulezky. Infuriated by the marriage, Diaghilev dismissed Nijinsky.
The 381-page diary, which the Russian dancer called his "Message to Mankind," fetched 45,000 pounds, far less than pre-sale estimates of up to 100,000 pounds ($232,000).
Oxford book dealer Colin Franklin outbid veteran British dancer and choreographer Anton Dolin, who had planned to suppress it.
"I think it is tragedy and disgusting that this sort of thing should be raked up after all these years," said Dolin, after going up to $81,200 in the bidding.
The diary was put up for sale by the Nijinsky estate following the death of the dancer's widow in Paris in June last year.
She had published an expurgated version of the work in 1937, deleting 30,000 words of erotic passages, poems and explicit sexual references.
Tuesday's sale did not include the copyright to the diary, which is still held by Nijinsky's estate.