Tag Archives: auction

Christie's Auction Sells 19th-Century Wine

Christie’s Auction Sells 19th-Century Wine

Christie’s Hong Kong’s latest vintage wine auction last Saturday saw some 2,000 bottles of vintage French burgundy wine from the storied Maison Bouchard Pere et Fils go under the hammer, its oldest bottle dating all the way from 1864.

From the Meursault-Charmes region, the 1864 vintage sold for HKD134,750 ($17,451) to an undisclosed bidder, far exceeding a top-ranged estimate of HKD80,000. As the oldest bottle in the Bouchard cellars, the wine boasts a pale golden color and a honeyed character.

“Early examples of Burgundy like those presented in the sale are extremely rare, with 16 bottles in our sale dating from the 19th century. The strong results from today’s sale, reflect how Burgundy wines continue to be avidly collected in the (Asian) region,” said Tim Triptree, senior specialist and head of sales for Christie’s wine department.

Another notable vintage, a 1865 Montrachet, also sold for HKD196,000, a price tag much more than the top range estimate of HKD60,000. The remarkable results come after Hong Kong’s abolishment of duties on wine imports in 2008, which made it a gateway to a prosperous wine market in mainland China. An austerity drive in China initially caused wariness in bagging high-end bottles amongst officials, but the market has since picked up.

Gilles de Larouziere, president of the Henriot wine group, which owns Maison Bouchard, had previously said the sale was taking place in Hong Kong because of “extraordinary enthusiasm for great French wines”.

Maison Bouchard Pere et Fils’ vineyards cover grounds spanning 130 hectares, of which 12 produce grand cru wines and 74 grow second-ranking premier crus. Currently helmed by the Henriot family of Champagne since 1995, the French wine producer was originally founded in 1731 and has a collection of around 150,000 bottles to date.

Find out more about the wines on auction via an interview with Christian Albouy, CEO of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils.

 

Bill Gates classic cars Porsche 959

How Bill Gates Made Classic Car Ownership Easier

Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates may be best known for creating the Windows operating system, his billions of dollars in the bank and his philanthropic work, but his love of fast cars, and in particular the Porsche 959, led to a legal change that has made it much easier for Americans to own an exotic modern European or Japanese classic.

‘Show or Display’ is an amendment to US federal government vehicle standards that permits an individual to import a rare or exotic car that isn’t sold in the US into the country for private use even if it doesn’t comply with United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). And this exemption exists thanks to Bill Gates’ lobbying the government for much of the early 1990s so that he could get his Porsche 959 back.

When Porsche took the wraps off the 959 in 1985, it redefined the concept of a supercar. It had an intelligent four-wheel-drive system, a 2.85-liter six-cylinder engine with two turbos attached to it, 450hp on tap and a 314km/h top speed. It was the world’s fastest production car and nothing could come close to it.

So, it’s little wonder Gates bought one. However there was a catch. Porsche only made 329 examples and wasn’t prepared to sacrifice any of them – after all each was worth $300,000. The US government demanded four examples for crash-testing; Porsche said “no” (understandable seeing as it would have been the same as setting fire to $1.2 million) and the car was banned from import into the country. Gates’ car was impounded by US customs and held for 13 years.

However, today the Porsche 959 is legally permitted to take to the road in the US. At this year’s Gooding & Co Pebble Beach auction, a 1988 Komfort edition went under the hammer for $1.3 million. And if the lucky owner is based in the US, he or she will be able to thank Bill Gates that they’re allowed to drive it.

Gates’ lobbying led to the ‘Show or Display’ amendment. It enables the import of rare cars – usually vehicles that had a production run of fewer than 500 examples – if the car in question “Is of such historical or technological significance that it is in the public interest to show or display it in the United States even though it would be difficult or impossible to bring the vehicle into compliance with the federal motor vehicle safety standards.”

A 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring © Darin Schnabel Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Record-Setting Car Auctions: Concours 2016

“The rise of Ferrari across the board has been a bit of phenomenon of the last 10 years,” begins Peter Haynes from RM Sotheby’s. Not only have the incredibly rare models from the 1950s and 60s rocketed in value but in recent years the prices of even 1980s and 90s Ferraris have jumped significantly — $575,000 for a 2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta, anyone?

But is that about to change? “It’s a relatively limited pool of people that want to buy the very high value cars,” says Haynes. “You could potentially argue that Ferrari has been overheated because there have been far too many big Ferraris coming to market.”

A 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Racing Two Seater is one of the stars of this year's Bonhams sale. © Courtesy of Bonhams

A 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Racing Two Seater is one of the stars of this year’s Bonhams sale.

What sends an auction into a frenzy is when a seriously significant car that has been in private ownership for a very long period of time finally comes up for sale.

“There are lots of lovely Bugattis that haven’t come to market over recent years. Lots of D-Type Jags. And now that they are, they are shining,” says Haynes.

And after years of unavailability, a Le Mans-winning D-Type is coming up and it has a conservative estimate of $20-$25 million. “A big, historically significant car doesn’t need to be a Ferrari to make a record price. A Le Mans-winning D-Type Jag is always going to be one of the most valuable cars in the world,” says Haynes.

This 1955 Jaguar D-Type won the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans. © Patrick Ernzen Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

This 1955 Jaguar D-Type won the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans.
© Patrick Ernzen Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

But the D-Type isn’t a solo performer. There is a 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Racing Two Seater ($14-$20 million+) that went under the hammer at Bonhams’ Quai Lodge auction on August 19 (It actually sold for $4 million, narrowly edging the Ferrari LaFerrari at the same sale). Or a 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring, one of only 12 in the world if you had upwards of $25 million to spare and attended the RM Sotheby’s sale. It closed for $19.8 million, making it the 8th most expensive car ever sold at auction.

A new order?

And then then there’s the total wildcard. The original Shelby Cobra, the car that Carroll Shelby himself built and owned until the day he died. A car that has never, ever come up for sale and one that represents Genesis verse one, chapter one in the bible of American international motorsports history. A normal Cobra can fetch upwards of $1.5 million. This one could fetch 20 times more. In the end, when the gavel fell, the car sold for $13.8 million, making it the most expensive American car ever sold at auction. It is, by our reckoning, number 21 on the list of most expensive cars in the world sold at auction.

“All of these cars are absolutely capable of entering the top 10, which up to now has been almost exclusively dominated by Ferrari,” says Haynes. From what we have seen, only the Alfa 8C lived to this billing, which is still a big thrill.

The very first Shelby Cobra CSX2000 © RM Sotheby's

The very first Shelby Cobra CSX2000
© RM Sotheby’s

As well as Ferrari fatigue, any possible rearranging of the top 10 is also down to changing tastes. Every year the average age of auction attendees drops as does the age of the cars they covet. This leads to even Japanese models becoming motoring icons and thus collectible.

“We can only guess what our kids may be potentially interested in buying when they hit their 40s,” explains Haynes. “How will they view something like a Ferrari Daytona? They might think it’s very cool or they might think its a horrendous antique not worth the garage space. It’s going to be interesting.”

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Vintage Wine Auction

Care for a vintage bottle for the cellars of Bouchard Père & Fils? Well, the good news is that come September 3, Christie’s Hong Kong will be offering 220 lots of rare vintage wines from Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils. However, should the wines and vintages from the largest vineyard in Burgundy not be of interest, then you may still look forward to several lots from an esteemed connoisseur’s private collection. Joining these lots is a selection of Burgundy wines from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

According to Christie’s Hong Kong, several of the vintages date back to 1846 and remained “undisturbed in their cellars in the Château de Beaune until they were shipped to Hong Kong specifically for this sale.” The bottles had been left unlabelled in the naturally cool and humid environment found in the cellars of Château de Beaune — an ideal climate to mature a vintage wine. The selected wines and vintages that will go under the hammer next month, have been reconditioned and re-corked before being re-labelled and housed in new wooden presentation cases.

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Cellar

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Cellar

Some lots to look out for, include the 1865 Montrachet, 1865 Chambertin and 1846 & 1858 Meursault-Charmes. From the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, comes a Vertical Collection of La Tâche from 1951 to 2008. While wine enthusiasts would be happy to learn about the sale, it comes as no surprise that some would be less confident in sampling the wines that have been stored for close to two centuries. To help determine if the wines are more collectibles for the trophy case or consumable spirits, we picked up an AFP interview with Christian Albouy, CEO of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils.

The oldest vintage in your auction is 1846. Even with the best possible storage conditions, what impact do all those years have on wine quality?

All the bottles are of remarkable quality, and that includes the 1846 Meursault Charmes. We store our entire collection in cellars (built in the 15th century) protected from light, at a natural temperature range of 10-14°C. The humidity level is a natural 50-75%, which prevents the corks from drying out and becoming porous which would lead to oxidation. We also check our bottles regularly and replace the corks every 25-30 years, which gives us an opportunity to monitor the quality of the wine.

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Bouchard Volnay Caillerets 1889

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Bouchard Volnay Caillerets 1889

Can the quality of an 1846 or 1865 wine still increase if a buyer decided to continue the aging process, or has it reached its peak at that age?

That’s a very difficult question to answer, but it does seem possible in optimal storage conditions. It’s the oxygen dissolved in the wine which will slowly and steadily change and possibly improve the wine. The main threats to wine conservation are oxidation and the effect of ultraviolet rays from daylight. Red wines are easier to preserve because of their anthocyanin and tannin content. A wine’s vintage is also a very important factor. The content of sugar can play a part, as can the level of alcohol which protects the wine against micro-organisms.

Which appellations hold up best against the passing of time?

In terms of the appellations that can be found in the upcoming sale, it could be argued that the red wines from the southern part of the Côte de Beaune area (Beaune Grève Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, Volnay, Pommard, and Corton) are in a slightly stronger position than the wines from the Côte de Nuits area. But Chambertin, Romanée and Vosne-Romanée wines also have exceptionally good aging potential. The vinification and bottling processes have a very significant impact on aging potential.

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Bouchard Musigny 1945

Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils: Bouchard Musigny 1945

The auction, which has been organized in partnership with Christie’s, will comprise 220 lots, including 2,000 bottles of vintage wine ranging from 1846 to 2009. Bouchard Père & Fils is a highly renowned domaine in Burgundy, eastern France, and one of the oldest wine businesses in Beaune, the capital of Burgundy wine. It produces a variety of appellations, including the top Burgundy wines Corton-Charlemagne and Meursault Perrières. The vineyard covers a total of 130 hectares, including 12 hectares of Grands Crus and 74 hectares of Premiers Crus.

This information from this article, was provided by Christie’s Hong Kong Wine Department and AFPRelaxnews. To learn more about the upcoming auction, visit Christie’s.

Top Auction Sales 2015 vs 2016

Stellar auction results from last year and this year continue to inspire confidence in luxury goods as an investment class but a slowdown is definitely underway. The 2016 Knight Frank Report released earlier this year observes that its own Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) rose by 7% in 2015 compared with a 5% drop in the FTSE 100 equities index (Brexit will make the FTSE a less-than-useful gauge next year). The report also notes that classic cars are the strongest performer (+17%) while furniture is in the red (-6%); these figures represent price changes over the course of 12 months to Q4 2015.

This year has been confusing for us to report on so we thought we would bring you the Knight Frank selection of top lots at auction in 2015 (scroll to the bottom), while noting some strangeness and a string of disappointments. The strangeness here is the record-breaking sale of the 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti, which auction house Artcurial moved for $35 million (pictured top). At the time, various sources (ourselves included) reported that it was the most expensive car ever sold at auction but, due to currency volatility, this has been thrown into doubt.

As the Knight Frank report notes, the 2014 Bonhams sale of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sold for $38 million so retains the USD record; the 1957 Scag holds the Euro record at 32.075 million. At 2014 exchange rates, the Scag would have beaten the Berlinetta but not so today. We are now in the position of having two Ferrari claimants to the throne of most expensive car ever sold at auction! The failure of the Ferrari 275 NART Spider to sell in May brought some clarity to the current situation, with experts from every auction house anticipating and warning of a slowdown in Ferrari auction prices and, consequently, in the entire classic car segment.

Look no further than the top lots sold to date for some context. All-time highs were recorded in 2015 for Jaguar ($13.2 million), Porsche ($10.1 million) and McLaren ($13.75 million). The best result we have for this year to-date is the aforementioned Scag, with everything else failing to even register on the newsworthiness scale. This explains why you may not have read anything about impressive auction sales recently.

Picasso's $179 Million 'Les Femmes d'Algers'

Picasso’s $179 Million ‘Les Femmes d’Algers’

In the world of art, Picasso’s Women of Algiers remains the best performer at auction to date, selling for $179.3 million in May, 2015. Records thus far in this year include personal-bests for Jean Michel Basquiat (57.3 million) and Frida Kahlo ($17.2 million), far below last year’s stars Modigliani ($170 million) and Twombly ($70.5 million).

Diamonds also lost their sparkle in 2016, with the Lesedi la Rona failing to sell this year. Given that this is second largest diamond ever mined, its failure to find a buyer (Sotheby’s estimated $70 million but the final bid was $61 million) is lamentable. Nevertheless, the success of blue diamonds at auction last year continues to fuel hope for the colored diamonds subset. As long as Hong Kong tycoon Joseph Lau keeps buying these, prices look to stay rock-steady.

The Lesedi la Rona diamond from Botswana.

The Lesedi la Rona diamond from Botswana.

Knight Frank 2015 Auction Stand Out Sales

Picasso: Women of Algiers ($179,300,000 – sold by Christie’s, May 2015)

Marc Newson: Lockheed Lounge ($3,700,400 – sold by Phillips, April 2015)

Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight ($13,200,000 – sold by Sotheby’s, August 2015)

Patek Philippe Doctor’s Chronograph ($4,987,383 – sold by Phillips, May 2015)

Blue Moon of Josephine 12 carat blue diamond ($48,400,000 – sold by Sotheby’s, November 2015)

Britain Buys $13.6 million Elizabeth I Portrait.

Britain Buys $13.6 million Elizabeth I Portrait

A defining portrait of England’s queen Elizabeth I has been bought for the nation, auctioneers said Friday, after thousands of donations to a fundraising campaign to keep the painting in Britain.

The life-sized portrait, which celebrates the 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada, was being sold by the descendants of Francis Drake — the vice-admiral who co-led England’s defence against the attempted invasion.

Royal Museums Greenwich — a group of four London museums — bought the oil painting from the Tyrwhitt-Drake family in a private sale, Christie’s auctioneers said, after £10.3 million ($13.6 million, 12.2 million euros) was raised.

The “Armada Portrait”, painted around 1590 by an unknown artist, is the defining image of queen Elizabeth in her pomp.

It shows the monarch wearing a gold embroidered and jeweled dress with her hand resting on a globe, while the English fleet enjoys calm waters and the approaching Spanish fleet is wrecked in a storm.

Now part of the national collection, it will hang in the Queen’s House, built in 1616 on the site of the original Greenwich Palace in southeast London, which was queen Elizabeth’s birthplace.

Public Funding

£1.5 million for the painting came from more than 8,000 public donations raised since May, with the museum group putting up £400,000.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) gave £7.4 million raised through national lottery ticket sales, with the remaining £1 million coming from the Art Fund, a charity.

“The ‘Armada Portrait’ is a compelling historic icon, illustrating as it does a decisive conflict, inspiring female leadership, maritime power and the emergence of the Elizabethan ‘Golden Age’,” said HLF chairman Peter Luff.

“This image has shaped our understanding of ‘Gloriana’, the Virgin Queen, for over four hundred years and I am delighted that it will now have such an appropriate permanent home in Greenwich.”

The painting was first recorded as being owned by the Drake family in 1775 and it is the first time it has been sold.

Safeguarding the Future

Drake conducted the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition between 1577 and 1580 and led the famous 1587 “Singeing of the King of Spain’s Beard” raid on Cadiz.

A representative of the Tyrwhitt-Drake family said the painting had been “safeguarded for future generations” and could now be seen “in the context of our nation’s great history”.

Two other surviving versions of the painting exist: one at the National Portrait Gallery in London and the other at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, southeast England, though the one connected to Drake is considered the most significant.

Hollywood Stars Donate Jeans for Refugees

Denim gets a new lease of life for a good cause, thanks to some of Hollywood’s finest such as Sharon Stone, Benicio Del Toro and Emma Watson. The charity drive, “Jeans for Refugees”, sees the stars hand over their trousers to American artist Johny Dar, to work his magic before auctioning off the creations.

Showing that the stars truly shine, some bids for jeans, such as those of Stone, have gone up to nearly 5,000 euros within hours of being listed on online auction site Catawiki. The colorful makeover of singer Pink’s jeans, had reached 3,000 euros as of Tuesday.

Those looking to collect memorabilia of the famous personalities need not lose hope as others such as Mick Jagger, Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham and Audrey Tautou have also donated their jeans. Proceeds from the sale will go towards the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC was founded in 1933, at the request of physicist Albert Einstein, with the aim of helping people escape the Nazi regime in Germany.

K-Pop Star T.O.P. Curates Sotheby’s Art Auction

Choi Seung-hyun, better known as T.O.P., is no stranger to the Asian music scene. Hailing from the very popular South Korean band Big Bang (V.I.P.s raise your hands!), T.O.P. has an enormous fan following – and it is this reach that Sotheby’s is trying to tap into. For the first time ever, Sotheby’s Hong Kong has invited a young art collector – that means T.O.P. – to curate a contemporary art sale, in a bid to encourage a younger audience to get interested and involved in the art market.

In case you didn’t know, T.O.P. wasn’t chosen merely for his fame – he’s also a fan and collector of modern art. One need only look to his Instagram for an illustration of our point: apart from the occasional selfie, it is full of art. In an exclusive interview with Men’s Folio Singapore, T.O.P also reveals that he comes from a family of artists, so he’s even had some art “training” to his name. Throw in his role as co-curator for Singapore’s ArtScience Museum’s 2015 exhibition “The Eye Zone”, as well as his Visual Culture prize at the Prudential Eye Awards, and the logic behind Sotheby’s choice in T.O.P. becomes clearer.

While the exact lots in the auction have not been announced yet, Sotheby’s contemporary art sale has already been scheduled for October 3, 2016. A portion of the proceeds raised during the auction will go towards the Asian Cultural Council, which offers grants, programs and support to artists in order to encourage cultural exchange.

Watch the video below for more information. (Or, if you were here more for T.O.P. than the art auction, watch the video below to stare at his handsome visage.)

Most Expensive Wine? Hermitage La Chappelle 1961

Wine fans would be no strangers to the name Hermitage La Chappelle 1961, but will still be surprised to learn that it is the world’s most expensive wine, according to iDealWine, based on their own auction results thus far this year. Most accurately, the Hermitage vintage can be said to be the most expensive wine bought via iDealWine auctions so far in 2016. [This version of the story clarifies the rationale behind the ranking].

The world-famous Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC) is typically top dog at auctions, ranked as it is as one of the greatest wine producers and widely recognized as the leader of the pack. With its low production volumes matched with very strong demand, you might recall that one DRC bottle clinched the highest auction bid, with the Grand Cru Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 2009 sold for 11,160 euros.

This is, unfortunately, old news. Just recently, a bottle of Hermitage La Chappelle 1961 from the Jaboulet estate went under the hammer with the winning bid of 13,320 euros to an Austrian enthusiast. It is too soon to claim that the DRC has been dethroned, however, for according to Wine-Searcher.com, the Grand Cru DRC has registered even higher prices, more than $16,000 in fact – albeit not at auction. The DRC has a long way to go before it relinquishes its investment-grade crown.

For the record though, tracking the most expensive wine of all time is surprisingly difficult. For example, the most expensive standard (750 ml) bottle of wine sold at auction is the Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1869. A Sotheby’s auction in 2010 raked in $690,000 for three bottles of this vintage, sold as a single lot. For just one bottle of wine, another Chateau Lafite, (this time the 1767, before Baron Rothschild acquired it), is credited with holding the sales record. It was thought to have been part of Thomas Jefferson’s collection. Malcolm Forbes purchased it in 1985 for $156,000 and it has been consumed by controversy since then, with its authenticity questioned till today.

In any event, the crowning of our new iDealWine auction leader speaks volumes about the world of wine. Rhone Valley wines (like the current reigning champion) are currently on the rise in the industry, with its WineDex Rhone index jumping 5.60%, as compared with the 5% for the index tracking Burgundy wine (like the DRC) prices. Things are certainly changing.

Check out Rhone Valley and DRC wines on Epicurio now. Download the app on iTunes or Google Play now

Mustang “Ole Yeller” Shelby GT350 to Auction

Bred from a Shelby GT350, the latest Ford Mustang special edition is a salute to the skies; more precisely, the “Ole Yeller” P-51D Mustang – one of the fastest American planes to soar through the skies – and its pilot, the legendary Bob Hoover.

“This year’s one-of-a-kind Ford Mustang honors two aviation greats, the iconic and historic P-51D Mustang fighter plane, and highly decorated fighter pilot, test pilot, and air show performer, Bob Hoover, who is referred to by many as one of the greatest pilots ever to have lived,” said Edsel B. Ford II, a member of the Ford board of directors.

Mustang Ole Yeller Shelby GT350

A little crash course in history on this fabled plane. The US-made plane was a single-seated fighter-bomber that participated in conflicts, including World War II, and has since retired from its combat duties for something a little more lighthearted: air shows. Ole Yeller was one such plane, so-called because of its sprightly yellow exteriors. Robert A. “Bob” Hoover piloted the plane for more than 20 years and is best known as the father of modern aerobatics and for setting a record of flying from coast-to-coast in the States in five hours and 20 minutes.

Mustang Ole Yeller Shelby GT350

You might think that as a one-off (only one of these will be made), the car might feature lots of tweaks and perhaps outright full-on changes. You’d be wrong. The changes made to this peppy car are only limited to its façade and interior furnishings. Besides the “Ole Yeller” paint finish, the body receives unique carbon-fiber accents and badgings, with projectors in the wing mirror housings that shine images of the aircraft. Inside, expect specially-designed Recaro seats, aviation-inspired gauges and custom door sills.

Mustang Ole Yeller Shelby GT350

The 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 delivers the fire of 526 horses, which alongside a TREMEC six-speed transmission and specially-tuned sport suspension, is guaranteed to give a performance befitting its rowdy disposition.

Mustang Ole Yeller Shelby GT350

That Ford would offer a Mustang in tribute to the P-51D Mustang for a great cause is not a coincidence. The American automobile firm has been supporting Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual ‘Gathering of Eagles’ for nearly two decades now, and have donated commissioned Mustangs for auction to raise funds to groom the next generation of pilots and aeronautic designers. “We’re truly grateful Ford is, and has been, such a committed sponsor of EAA and AirVenture for more than 16 years now,” said Jack Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board. “With its ninth Mustang donation, Ford has definitely delivered something exceptional that any auto or aviation enthusiast would love to own.”

Nazi-seized Degas Drawing Fetches 462,500 Euros

Art is one of the most treasured items of possession, which we should know well given that our sister title is Art Republik, and the Nazi regime had a well-known fetish for the European Old Masters. This Degas piece that sold for $511,000 suffered from the unwanted attention of the Third Reich. In this case, there was a happy ending, just as there was in the George Clooney film Monuments Men.

In August 1940, the Nazis seized an Edgar Degas drawing from Maurice Dreyfus, a doctor. It was eventually found in 1951 in a closet of the former German embassy in Paris, and given to the Louvre Museum before it was identified as the property of the Dreyfus family.

“We received a gift from heaven when we learned that they found the Degas drawing. It’s as if my father gave us a gift from beyond the grave. We are very moved,” said Dreyfus’s daughter Viviane.

The 1898 drawing, titled “Trois Danseuses en Buste”, was then put up on auction by the Dreyfus family, and fetched 462,500 euros ($511,000). The reported buyer was an Italian collector, who purchased the art piece by telephone, according to the Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau near Paris.

Paul Newman Porsche at Pebble Beach Auction

A 1979 Porsche 935 racing car driven by movie icon and race team owner Paul Newman at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is going under the hammer on August 20.

The car, which Newman raced for the Dick Barbour team, is one of the best race cars that Porsche has ever created, regardless of the movie-star connection.

The 935, which is being auctioned by Gooding & Company as part of its Pebble Beach sale (one of the highlights of Monterey Motoring week), also won the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1983 12 Hours of Sebring, though without Newman behind the wheel.

Restored to concourse condition in 2006 by Porsche specialist Paul Wilson, this 935 won best in class at the 2007 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance; what’s more it has a further claim to fame. In 1980 the car was sponsored by Apple for the making it the first, and to this day, only racecar the company has ever sponsored.

Revealed: Prince Online Museum, Auction Results

Prince, the talented singer-songwriter and international man of mystery may have been laid to rest but his name and legacy live on. To honor the late artist and his contribution to both the musical and digital worlds, an Internet archive featuring 12 of Prince’s official websites has been launched.

The launch of the online museum comes exactly a decade after he closed his award-winning digital NPG Music Club. The museum now serves as an ode to his contributions and accomplishments for the online communities. Described as a labor of love, the museum will not be selling downloads nor will membership fees be required. Like Prince, the museum will be supporting the organisation #YesWeCode. The goal is to help 100,000 low opportunity gain a high-paying career in the technology industry.Prince-Purple-Rain-Outfit-auctioned

The artist was in the news for other reasons as well this week. One of his signature Purple Rain outfits was bought at an auction called “Profiles in History” for $192,000. The ruffled ivory silk shirt and black-and-white blazer was seen in the Oscar winning film Purple Rain. The seller was not Prince’s estate but instead the sibling of a makeup artist for the film and the sale was planned long before the artist’s sudden death. The buyers are anonymous.

Johnny Depp Basquiats Net $11.5 million at Auction

Actor Johnny Depp sold two Basquiat pieces from his art collection at Christie’s June 29, with six more going under the hammer June 30 as part of the auction house’s two-day “Postwar and Contemporary Art Evening Sale.”

Basquiat’s work has been surpassing price estimates for years, and 2016 has seen yet another record broken for the late artist. In May 2016, his Untitled” was auctioned for $57,285,000: the most expensive Basquiat piece to date.

The works under the hammer Wednesday, “Pork” and “Self Portrait,” were both produced in 1981, a pivotal year in the development of the young American artist, who was brought to the attention of the art world via René Ricard’s “The Radiant Child” publication in ArtForum magazine.

At the auction, Basquiat’s “Self Portrait” was sold for $4.7 million to Acquavella Galleries, well above the estimated price of $1.9 million, after heated bidding saw eight buyers compete for the painting. “Pork”, the highest-selling piece of the evening, went for $6.8 million to an unidentified telephone bidder.

Basquiat Pork Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp, art enthusiast

The actor and art lover Johnny Depp originally bought Basquiat’s “Pork” from Blum and Poe in 1998, and picked up “Self Portrait” in 2000 for almost three times over estimate. Over a 25-year period, Depp has built up a collection of eight Basquiat pieces which, along with his entire art collection, are all going under the hammer.

While Basquiat’s prices may seem elevated, they remain relatively low compared to some of his contemporaries of the time (the 1980s and 1990s). Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol (who collaborated with Basquiat) achieve far higher sales, with the former’s “Nurse” selling for $95.4 million in 2015. Warhol’s most expensive pieces are the iconic “Silver Car Crash [Double Disaster]” and “Eight Elvises” which sold for $107 and $109 million respectively.

Post-War and Contemporary Art market

Almost all of the pieces in the first of the two-day “Post-War and Contemporary Art” auction were sold, with a total sale figure of over $50 million. Edmond Francey, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, explained that “Tonight’s results offer real assurance and continued strength to the globalized art market[…]. The response to Johnny Depp’s Basquiats electrified the sale room and we continue to see that for the top works collectors will stretch themselves to the highest levels.”

Original Shelby Cobra Up For Auction

It isn’t every day that the original Shelby Cobra comes up for sale so while we expect a stampede towards the auction block, take a moment to steady yourselves. Come August 19, the Chassis number CSX 2000 will go under the hammer at the RM Sothesby’s Monterey auction. Yes, that very same one Carroll Shelby built and owned until the day he died. Owing to its iconic status, the car is expected to climb into the ranks of all-time auction top 10. At present, this top 10 is dominated by Ferraris, as our last list on this shows and this story too.

To people who don’t understand what the fuss is about, this automobile is not just a pretty face; the CSX 2000 carries great history weight. We’re talking about the car that the world’s motoring press tested around the tracks, as the world watched it run at a 153mph top speed in 1962. More than just the testing and development prototype that paved the way for the Cobra and Shelby, it was also one of Shelby’s most important props. Its creator used to take it to events every week, except painted a different color to convince potential buyers that there was an abundant supply of Cobras, and that production was in full swing. Ah, good times.

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Call it the forefather of countless other legendary cars, if you will. Had Shelby not equipped the high performance V8 into its engine bay, there would be no Cobra, no Shelby American, no GT40, nor the others that followed. It is the vehicle that revolutionalized the not just the racing world, but also the automotive industry in general. And it is up for grabs.

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“It is, without exception, the single most important and history-rewriting sports car ever offered at auction, after over 50 years of ownership and without ever leaving the care of its founding father. We’re beyond thrilled to celebrate and present this national treasure in Monterey this August,” said Shelby Myers, Car Specialist, RM Sotheby’s. Know what this means? It’s your one and only chance to obtain the Holy Grail, everyone.

Lesedi la Rona: Largest Diamond Fails to Sell

Some say bigger is better but in the case of the Lesedi la Rona, that may not be the case. Said to be biggest uncut diamond that has been found in more than a century and the second largest ever mined, the gem failed to sell in London earlier this week.

The public auction saw bidders wiling to part with a maximum of $61 million but alas it fell short of the minimum sum reserve price that had not been disclosed.  Sotheby’s, the auction house that helped to handle the sale of the diamond even predicted that it would fetch $70 million. One reason cited for the failure to create a successful sale, is that Lucara Diamond Corp went with an auction method that is less conventional.

While most diamonds of this size and quality are usually sold in a private auction, the company chose to go down an alternative path with a public auction. The failure to sell the diamond also saw the company’s stocks drop 14.5% after the end of the auction. There is speculation that the result may be attributed to the Brexit kerfuffle (pretty much everything is related to it at this point) where many a wealthy diamond lover may have seen a significant dip in net worth.

Still, it is more likely that suitors for his kind of stone prefer to play their hands in private. Private buyers may still have a chance to bid for the diamond because Lucara of course retains possession. The company is said to be considering distinctly non-commercial avenues for the diamond, such as loaning it to museums for educational purposes.

Sotheby’s Saville Sale Quells Brexit Fears

Fears about the British art market were alleviated at Sotheby’s when a resoundingly successful sale of Contemporary Art went down – it raked in a total of around £52 million. Ok that doesn’t go as far as it used to but why quibble? With all the economic rumbling coming from the massive fault line underlying the Brexit referendum, it is worth remembering that the world just keeps right on turning and in times of trouble, one can still enjoy art. The star of the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction was “Shift,” the famous and altogether quite visceral painting by the anatomy-obsessed Jenny Saville.

“Shift” is a massive 330cm x 330cm painting depicting five or so bodies (there’s a bit of an extra one on the side) stuffed together onto the canvas like sardines. In a specifically Saville-esque way (although her style has similarities with the realist grotesqueries of Lucian Freud), the bodies are naked, raw, elongated, and are spread all around with moldy skin suggesting frailty and decrepitude. This comes together as a wave of flesh that seems to protrude out at any viewer – possibly the meaning behind the ‘Shift’ in the title. Mind you this is a painting so for it to be this visceral is breathtaking.

It had its debut in 1997 at a Young British Artists show entitled “Sensation”, organized by famed art collector and impresario Charles Saatchi. The show was viewed as particularly offensive by the public at the time, especially for a work by artist Chris Ofili – a painting of the Virgin Mary decorated with elephant dung and collaged images of female genitalia. Well, the public has never really had much patience for depictions of elephant dung anyway. A case in point is a showing in New York, where then-Mayor Rudolph Giulliani tried to shut down the exhibition. Needless to say, it was a great success (the show, not Giulliani).

Surprisingly, established art dealer Larry Gagosian was beaten to the final bid on “Shift” by the Long Museum in Shanghai – who paid around £6.8 million for it. Founded by billionare Liu Yiqian (who, by the way, made himself infamous for drinking out of a 500-year old historical cup), the museum specially showcases his art collection. Liu’s focus lately has been about nabbing International works of Art to showcase to the Chinese citizenry. He procured a Modigliani from Christie’s a few months back, much to the consternation of Western fans.

Other than the Saville, Keith Haring’s pop-art nightmare, “The Last Rainforest”, fetched around £4 million. It is one of his densest works, as it layers a sprawling violent cartoonish landscapes on yellow and red splatters. The other higher earners from the sale include Jean Dubuffet’s grimy abstract painting “Barbe de Lumière des Aveuglés” (around £3 million), Sigmar Polke’s acrylic and fabric work “Roter Fisch” (around £3 million), and a version of Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Monroe reproductions (around £2.8 million).

If there’s anything we’ve learnt from the past, it is that art and literature blooms in tumultuous times. This is not to buy into the idea that suffering is necessary to breed creative genius of course (no amount of suffering helped artists within the former Soviet Union who were under censorship). At the very least, trouble builds discussion, and as the original show by the Young British Artists proves, the artist always aimed to be the loudest communicator. Even in an economic slump, people will still admire, consume, collect, and create works that reflect the atmosphere.

Heritage Auctions Sells Prince Guitar, Bowie Hair

The lustre of celebrities lasts long after they die, especially so if they were deemed legendary, and many would clamor for a piece of them – quite literally. Case in point: a snippet of David Bowie’s pale blond hair sold for $18,750 at a sale organized by Heritage Auctions. Yes, this really happened.prince-david-bowie-1

In a similar vein, Prince’s iconic “Yellow Cloud” guitar attracted a winning bid of of $137,000, reportedly bought by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. The winning bid, while overwhelming, is perhaps understandable; the yellow instrument is almost symbolic of the late musician, with it appearing in almost every photo of Prince since the late 1980s until its neck broke in 1994.

“As celebrity stage-used instruments go, this piece is as unique as Beethoven’s piano or John Coltrane’s saxophone,” notes Garry Shrum, Heritage’s director of music memorabilia. You might recall that Heritage Auctions was recently embroiled in the controversy over Whitney Houston’s Emmy Award. We have that story here.

Judge Blocks Sale of Whitney Houston Emmy

A US judge has ruled against the Whitney Houston estate and Heritage Auctions, blocking their attempted sale of the late singer’s Emmy award. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences filed suit June 23 against both parties, claiming an auction would tarnish its reputation and ownership of the statuettes, which it said were only loaned out.

Houston won the award in 1986 and it was part of her belongings, including a passport and a Dolce & Gabbana coat, on the block at Beverly Hills-based Heritage Auctions.

According to the Academy, Emmy winners’ heirs are entitled to keep their awards “to symbolize the achievements of the deceased honorees” but the trophies cannot be sold. The judge in the federal court in Los Angeles agreed but there will be another hearing July 7 to extend the current order.

Houston, who died in 2012, won the Emmy in 1986 in recognition of her performance of “Saving All My Love for You” at a televised Grammy Awards ceremony.

Heritage Auctions moved to return the Emmy to the Houston family and proceeded with the sale, earning more than $500,000. The top bid was reportedly a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers given to the singer by the basketball legend himself, Michael Jordan, in 1990. While the Emmy was not sold, other awards – a Billboard award and Houston’s gold records for example – were part of the sale.

The singer drowned in a bathtub at the age of 48 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, with cocaine and heart disease listed as contributing factors.

A coroner’s report issued a few weeks after her death said Houston died face down in the bathwater, possibly after overdosing on drugs and alcohol.

Various bottles were found in the room – in all some 12 medications prescribed by five different doctors, including anxiety treatment Xanax and the potent corticosteroid Prednisone.

The singer of hits such as “I Will Always Love You” sold more than 170 million records during a nearly three-decade career, but also fought a long battle against substance abuse.

Utamaro Woodblock Print Sets Auction Record

The Japanese art of woodblock printing has a very long history, with its fair share of masters whose work is in high demand from collectors . One of these masters was Kitagawa Utamaro, an artist nonpareil at the time for his beautiful depictions of women. At a Paris auction, held by the Beaussant Lefevre auction house in association with Christie’s, Utamaro’s sensual skill was brought to the forefront again with an auction of his ‘Deeply Hidden Love’ (Fukaku Shinobu Koi) print. It fetched around 745,000 euros, and went way beyond the initial estimate of 100,000 euros – setting a record for both prints of the Ukiyo-e genre, as well as prints by the artist of course.

Auction of the Portier Collection

The auction held in Paris was focused on Asian art and objects from a collection held by the Portier family – mainly consisting of Japanese earthenware including chawan (tea bowls) and kogo incense boxes. All 90 lots put up were sold after intense bidding, which is an extraordinary result. Some of the other major lots sold included a portrait of actor Tanimura Torazo created by artist Toshusai Sharaku (101,000 euros), and a bust of comedian Iwai Hanshiro by Utagawa Kunimasa (78,680 euros).

“(The Portiers’) expertise has been a reference for the Asian art market for the past four generations,” said the auction house in a statement.

There was also a set of eight exceptional Edo stamps that mainly depicted portraits of actors done by leading artists at the time. Each stamp was acquired by Henri Portier and his son Andre, major figures in the Asian art market in France, in sales at the Drouot auction house over the past century.

Utamaro, Master of Japanese Woodblock Prints

Compared with more popular forms of art like painting, the techniques behind woodblock printing are less known. It was a complicated process that involved three people working in tandem with one another. The artist himself usually only made the initial sketch of the final product, before sending it over to a carver to carve out the block, and a printer to apply inks to the block. Especially troublesome was the fact that each block could only be used for a single color (although some used blocks repeatedly to get special effects). Multiple woodblocks had to be prepared for a single print.

When the whole process worked out, under the conception of a skilled artist, you get the masterful combinations of color and form that characterize the best works in the medium. The powerful contrasts of blues and whites, for example, that blends together, for example, in Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave Off Kamigawa’. Utamaro, on the other hand, was more focused on using those colors to create a light and idealized form of femininity – and captured subjects like courtesans and Geisha from the Yoshiwara district – or bustling scenes of human life.

The methodology of Japanese woodblock printing has fallen out of favor, especially in view of newer mediums like linocut and lithography (and not to mention digital printing today). Still, the effects and techniques achieved by the Ukiyo-e artists have inspired countless others in the East and West – including great painters such as Van Gogh, most famously. The prints are being perpetuated all over the globe and can gather up new fans over the years. Hopefully, that’ll continue.