Tag Archives: auction

Sotheby’s Auctions Remaining Pierre Berge Library

As one half of the duo who founded Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Berge is regarded as a fashion mogul. On November 8 and 9, the French philanthropist will be putting up the other half of his famous library for auction at Sotheby’s in Paris.

The other half of the collection raised $12.8 million (which we covered originally here) so it would be no surprise if this collection fetches just as much. While the full auction catalogue is only made available in September, the current list of items included would make any literature fiend happy. The 380-work collection is expected to include the finest works of 19th century European literature, including the Marquis de Sade’s last novella as well as Gustave Flaubert’s account of his tour through France’s Loire and Brittany regions in 1886.

Made up of mainly English, German and Russian language classics, the collection also includes rare edition works from poets such as Byron, Shelley, Wilde, Tolstoy and Goethe. The proceeds of the auction will go towards the Foundation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent that Berge and his former lover Saint Laurent set up to support AIDS research.

Kenny Rogers’ Beaver Dam Farms to be Auctioned

Country music hall of fame member and multiple Grammy winner Kenny Roger’s country estate Beaver Dam Farms is set to be auctioned come July 9.

At an imposing 973-acres, the estate in Georgia is home to an impressive array of facilities: three private spring fed lakes, a 12,000-square-foot mansion, five guest houses and clubhouse, lake clubhouse and a two-acre indoor equestrian/multipurpose arenas with 44 stalls. The list doesn’t end there; there are also two swimming pools, two clay tennis courts and an 18-hole championship rated golf course.

Ever Better Expedition Winter Tour 2015

The estate was of great significance to the prolific musician and businessman. “I was raised in the projects in Houston, Texas, and I always had this dream of doing something spectacular,” he said. “I remember when I was young, I would walk through the wealthy part of town on my way to school and saw the automated sprinklers and thought, ‘one day I’m going to have those.’ So, when I built the golf course, I would go out and sit on the golf cart and watch the sprinklers. To me, it was a sign that I had achieved my dreams.”

Ever Better Expedition Winter Tour 2015

The property not only served as inspiration for Rogers’ many songs, but is also a reflection of his signature style. Throughout his residence, he had hosted several publicised golf tournaments on the greens he personally designed. These included the Classic Weekend, a fundraising event featuring basketball, tennis, fishing and golf besides music and entertainment.

Ever Better Expedition Winter Tour 2015

The estate will be sold at the auction for or above USD3.5 million and will be fully furnished while the replacement cost of the property is estimated to be somewhere between USD30 to 40 million. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Good. “Beaver Dam Farms is rich in history and uniqueness, and someone is going to get a steal July 9 at the auction.”

The property is available for viewing every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., from now until the July 9. Qualified buyers may schedule an appointment via email at [email protected].

Christie’s Sells Cullinan Dream, Sets New Record

Back in May, the auction house Christie’s announced the sale of the fancy intense blue diamond called the Cullinan Dream. At 24.18 carats, the diamond was regarded as a rare find. Now, the diamond holds the title as the most expensive fancy intense blue diamond to be sold.

Fetching more than $25 million, the diamond was auctioned at Christie’s on Thursday in New York. Classified as a Type llb diamond, the Cullinan Dream comes from the 122.52-carat rough blue diamond found in the Cullinan Mines of South Africa. The largest of four diamonds to be found, the diamond falls into a rare category that accounts for less than one-half of the 1% of all diamonds found.

Its unique color is the result of small amounts of boron being trapped in the crystal carbon structure during the formation of the diamond. The Cullinan Dream is now set as a cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut fancy intense blue diamond and is flanked on either side by a tapered baguette-cut diamond. Other well-known diamonds that have been mined from the Cullinan mine include the 3,106-carat rough diamond that is known as the Cullinan Diamond. This rough diamond was then cut into two magnificent gems that now sit on the Imperial State Crown and Sceptre of the British Crown Jewels.

To learn more about the Cullinan Dream, click here.

Johnny Depp Sells 9 Basquiats with Christie’s

Nine works from Jean-Michel Basquiat are to be auctioned by Christie’s London, in a sale from the art collection of Johnny Depp. Although this seems timed to take advantage of a recent major auction success of Basquiat and renewed interest in Depp, thanks to the spectacularly ugly and public breakdown of his marriage to actress Amber Heard, the auction was apparently long-planned, according to Christie’s.

Nevertheless, it looks set to capitalize on the record-breaking sale of “Untitled” (1982), which fetched $57.3m at the auction house’s New York event in May.

Artnet observes that Depp’s “Pork Sans” (1981) is estimated to sell for between $3.6m and $5m.

The pieces were collected over a 25-year period, starting after Depp shot to fame as the title character in Edward Scissorhands, and almost exclusively focus on Basquat’s 1981 output, Christie’s notes, that being the time in which the artist started having a global impact on the art world.

The two-day Post-War and Contemporary Art auction takes place on June 29 and 30, 2016, and also includes works from Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

US actress Amber Heard filed for divorce from actor husband Johnny Depp in May.

johnny_depp_afp

Christie’s: Joan Rivers Private Collection Auction

Fans of the late host and television personality Joan Rivers, will soon have the chance to own several personal pieces from her Manhattan Penthouse. On June 22, Christies will be holding an auction featuring an assortment of 200 items from the woman whose personality was larger than life.

Proceeds of the auction will go towards “God’s Love We Deliver” and “Guide Dogs For The Blind” — both charities that Rivers held close to her heart. A connoisseur of decorative arts, paintings and fine French furniture, Rivers’ personal items are expected to go under the hammer where prices will range from $500 to $200,000. One such piece, is the Edouard Vuillard painting Dans L’Atelier, circa 1915 ($120,000 – $180,000). Other items to look out for include a jewelled Nephrite study of a Lily of the Valley leaf by Fabergé ($200,000 – $300,000) and a silver water bowl from Tiffany & Co., engraved with “for Spike” ($500 – $ 800) that she had bought for her beloved dog.

Before the auction at Christie’s however, the auction house will also be hosting an online auction from June 16 – 23. During the online sale, unique costumes made by Bob Mackie, couture and personal jewelry from jewelers such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels as well as Harry Winston will be available. For someone as opinionated as Rivers, with a taste for the finer things in life, this sale will certainly not disappoint.

“My mother’s legacy as a much loved comedienne and philanthropist will be commemorated in this collaboration with Christie’s and her generosity to charitable causes is something I will continue in her honor” said her daughter Melissa Rivers.

Proust Archives Sells For $1.3 Million

The auction at Sotheby’s of archives belonging to the French writer Marcel Proust has passed, racking up a total sale value of $1.3 million. This, at least, is a sure sign of how great and rich – literally – a legacy Proust has left us. On the whole, the sale exceeded expert estimates for the collection, which was tagged at somewhere between $600,000 – $850,000. The trove of about 120 documents came from the writer’s 41-year-old great-grand-niece Patricia Mante-Proust.

The most valuable item in the sale was the original manuscript of In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, the second volume of Proust’s grand masterwork In Search of Lost Time. This fetched up to around $120,000, well beyond the estimates of around $22,000 to $28,000. The manuscript includes crossed out passages and corrections from the author.

An original edition of Swann’s Way (the first volume of the work) which was published in 1913 was also sold, reaching around $70,000. Besides that, the auction was a treasure trove of memories, featuring several photos and letters involving Proust, his friends, his lovers, and his family.

“The set of proofs represents the author’s writing in the midst of his creative flow, with all its successive edits,” Sotheby’s said in a statement. Perhaps this may be what the suitors in the sale were trying to get at – a  representative slice of the creativity and vivacity of life that Proust channeled in writing his novel. That sliver of ‘lost time’.

This story was written in-house, based on an AFP report. Image are courtesy of Sotheby’s.

‘The Little Prince’ Watercolor Sold At Auction

There is probably no book that presents childhood better than The Little Prince, and much of its success is down to the fact that it defines childhood in terms children themselves can understand – with fantasy and lightness of imagination. A testament to this fact can be seen in a recent sale on Tuesday, where an original watercolor from the book was sold for $148,000. The sale was organized by auction house Artcurial. Of course, the book has sold 145 million copies worldwide and been translated into 270 languages so this is probably a moot point. It has even got a movie adaptation and is favored by luxury brands such as Swiss watchmaker IWC.

The deceptively simple story of The Little Prince is well-known. A pilot (based on author Antoine Saint-Exupery’s real life experiences) crash lands in a desert and meets a little boy who claims to be a prince who comes from another world – really an asteroid. The rest of the story is an exploration of different asteroid-like planets and the many different lively inhabitants who share the prince’s universe. Yet, much of the beauty comes from the incredible depth hidden in the text. Saint-Exupery drew from the rich tradition of French satirical writers, like Voltaire, to weave in a critique of human folly and an allegory about the loss of innocence, into the story. The resulting book has a subtle moral center lurking amidst the wild flights of fantasy. It is a book that people can return to, again and again, throughout their lives.

The watercolor sold shows the prince in the desert, standing on a dune with his scarf and hair blowing in the wind. The manuscript and drawings were bought by the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York originally, but the watercolors were brought back to France by Saint-Exupery’s wife before being sold at a public sale 30 years ago. Six buyers battled it out at the recent Artcurial sale, leading it to more than double its list price.

While we are happy about this, it is a bit of a paradox. One wonders whether we’re too attached to material values here. The original story, after all, was about approaching life and living it fully – something that Saint-Exupery, as a pilot, was constantly dealing with throughout all of his books due to the looming threat of the grim reaper. The author even explicitly criticized people for attaching value to objects by price rather than by their own understanding of those objects.

Even so, the palpable nostalgia the story generates creates this visceral effect for us. In the end, we have only Saint-Exupery’s own words left to turn to: “Nothing can match the treasure of common memories, of trials endured together, of quarrels and reconciliations and generous emotions”.

Diamond-set Hermes Birkin Breaks Auction Record

A diamond-encrusted crocodile-skin Hermes handbag with white gold details has broken the record for the world’s most expensive ever sold at auction, fetching nearly $300,000 at a Hong Kong sale.

The rare Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30 went to an unknown phone bidder late Monday for HK$2.32 million ($298,655), beating a pre-sale estimate of HK$2 million, the auction house Christie’s said.

“It was the world record price for any handbag sold at auction,” Bingle Lee, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Christie’s, told AFP.

Designer handbags are increasingly seen as investment opportunities and are the latest craze for collectors, taking global auction houses by storm and scoring record prices.

The new record beat one set last year, also in Hong Kong, when a fuchsia-colored Hermes bag sold for $222,912.

The handmade bag — described by the London-based auctioneers as the “rarest, most sought-after” — is encrusted with diamonds, while the buckle and trademark mini Hermes padlock are made of 18k white gold.

“It is believed that only one or two of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year, globally, making it one of the lowest production runs for handbags,” Christie’s said in a statement issued before the sale.

The bag was made in 2008 and is from Hermes’ iconic “Birkin” series named after actress and singer Jane Birkin, who was born in Britain and lives in France.

A smaller Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 25 handbag will go under the hammer June 1 with an estimate price of HK$1.3 million to HK$1.5 million.

The auction was part of the firm’s 30th anniversary sales to mark its presence in Asia, with a range of luxury goods on offer, including Chinese paintings, watches and wine.

‘Mad Men’ Props for Charity Auction

You can now own a little piece of your favorite American TV show, Mad Men, and all for a good cause. To raise funds for cancer charity City of Hope, the cult AMC TV series will organize an auction of more than 1,500 of Mad Men’s props through eBay, accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from Lionsgate, the studio that made the series. Property master Ellen Freund personally curated the prized items, some of which returned from “Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men” exhibition at The Museum of the Moving Image in New York last year.

No prizes for guessing whose items will fetch the most money, though. Protagonist Don Draper’s wallet, orange visitor chairs, engagement ring to Betty and even his iconic 1964 Chrysler Imperial convertible will go under the hammer. Last year, his 1965 Cadillac Coupe DeVille sold for $48,980 on ScreenBid.

Collectors can also look forward to Peggy Olson’s blue SC&P typewriter and Joan Harris’ office ice bucket and tumbler set and Stan Rizzo’s notepad, complete with sketches.

Check out Screenbid.com for a preview of some items on auction and mark your calendars for June 1 because this is one auction all ‘Mad Men’ fans shouldn’t miss.

Royal Treat: Louis XIII L’Odyssee d’un Roi

Always pushing the boundaries of exclusivity and luxurious design, cognac house Remy Martin, in collaboration with some of the biggest names in artisanal design, has come up with a full luxury set featuring its Louis XIII cognac at the heart. The aptly titled L’Odyssee d’un Roi (A King’s Odyssey because, of course) features a bespoke trunk by Hermes, pieces by silversmith Puiforcat, and glasswork by royal crystallerie Saint-Louis. It will be auctioned off in New York at Sotheby’s in September. The proceeds from the auction will benefit the Film Foundation, a non-profit that works to preserve and restore classic films. You might recall that Louis XIII enjoys grand theater, as evidenced by its efforts with the John Malkovich film.

The bespoke trunk by Hermes is entirely hand-stitched with fine leathers and bears the same design as a classic steamer trunk (fitting in with the Odyssey theme). Puiforcat has its hand in making the elegant white-gold pipette bearing the name and the logo. The beautiful decanter with its ridges on the side, as well as four serving glasses, were blown by a craftsperson, cut, and engraved with impeccable skill at Saint-Louis. The whole package comes with a book chronicling the global journey of the cognac that boasts a history stretching back to the 1870s. All of it added up together as 1,000 hours of labor split between 50 artisans.

Of course we have to take note of the cognac itself. The liquid gold in each decanter is the work of both the current cellar master Baptiste Loiseau and his predecessor Pierrette Trichet. The blend invokes tints and notes of myrrh, honey, immortelle, plum, honeysuckle, wood bark, leather and passion fruits. What we know from oficial sources is that this blend is not the standard Louis XIII offering, although it is still all Grand Champagne. Before the auction, the three sets created will be exhibited in New York, Hong Kong and London.

You can watch how the process of craftsmanship comes together below, and if you want to know more, you can check out Remy Martin’s website.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=timJRo58Lh0&feature=youtu.be

Fine Wine Auction Rakes in Millions

An audacious wine auction in Geneva beat expectations Sunday, raking in more than $4 million for a collection of Burgundy (specifically grand crus from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti) fine wines. We admit we were also somewhat negative about this auction, even as we covered it twice (here and here). The second part of the auction saw some 3,000 bottles of Bordeaux grand crus and other items selling for more than $2 million.

In the first part of the sale, there were 1,407 bottles of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti looking for the highest bidder and they did just that, beating all expectations. Altogether, Baghera Wines auction house achieved CHF4.2 million ($4.3 million, 3.8 million euros) here, with a single three-litre jeroboam of 1999 Romanee-Conti snatched up for CHF60,000 by an anonymous buyer.

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which takes its name from its most famous vineyard, is widely considered to be one of the world’s finest wine producers.

“We’re very happy with the results,” the head of the Baghera Wines auction house Michael Ganne told AFP.

Stored in perfect conditions for the past 15 years at the heavily-guarded Geneva Freeports customs-free zone, the bottles belong to a single investor who has asked to remain anonymous.

The collection is “unique” and “historic”, Ganne said ahead of the sale, explaining that it is extremely rare for more than 100 bottles from the prestigious estate to be auctioned at once.

Some 50 people had gathered at the Geneva auction house, but much of the activity happened on the phone or through written orders, mainly from wealthy Asian buyers, Ganne said.

About 85 percent of the bottles presented were snapped up, he said.

Seven grand crus produced between 1952 and 2011 at the producer’s Romanee Conti, La Tache, Richebourg, Romanee-Saint-Vivant, Grands Echezeaux, Echezeaux, and Montrachet vineyards were sold off in 266 batches.

In addition to the jeroboam of 1999 Romanee-Conti, the top lots included 12 bottles of a 1988 Romanee-Conti bought for CHF144,000.

Grand crus – literally ‘great growth’ in French and indicating wine from France’s best vineyards – produced by the tiny Domaine de la Romanee-Conti are so expensive largely because they are so rare.

Only 200 bottles are expected to be made there this year, and more than 100,000 people are on a waiting list to acquire a single bottle, Ganne said.

The second half of Sunday’s auction offered up around 3,000 bottles of grand crus from Bordeaux, as well as American wines, vintage champagne and Cuban cigars, which together sold for CHF2.0 million Swiss francs.

Fine Wine Auction Tests Cool Market

Despite a cool market due to a slowdown in China, the fine wines sale by auction house Baghera Wines may still shake things up this coming May 22 (Sunday). There will be more than 1,400 bottles of grand crus from Burgundy’s renowned Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wine estate, as well as 3,000 Bordeaux grand crus. The amount expected from the sale is a total six to nine million francs.

“Grand Crus” is a special designation given to wines who represent the rarest of the rare. Even rarer are those from the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which is considered one of the finest wine producers in the world. Head of the Baghera Wines auction house Michael Ganne noted that the amount per year is so limited that only 200 bottles are expected to be made this year, while there’s a waiting list of more than 100,000 people, just to acquire a single bottle. Thus, he said, all this makes for an auction that is going to be “unique” and “historic”. The bottles have reportedly been stored in ideal condition for the past 15 years at the heavily-guarded Geneva Freeports customs-free zone, and belong to a single investor who has asked to remain anonymous.

Ganne noted that this auction could be “the most important one over the past two decades in continental Europe”. Either way, the sheer quality and size of the stock will definitely set Baghera Wines on firm on the map for the future.

If you want to find out more about the coming auction, just head over to Baghera Wine’s website here

Most Expensive: $31 million Unique Pink Diamond

Another diamond has hit the auction block, with a great deal of fanfare, but this particular rock has delivered on those promises with its unusual size and exceptional quality. The result was a record-breaking sale and a happy moment for the Asian collector who walked away with it.

The 15.38-carat vivid pink diamond, affectionately dubbed “Unique Pink” is not only the biggest of its kind to go on auction, it also sold for an eye-watering total of $31.56 million, making it the most expensive fancy vivid pink diamond ever to sell at auction. For some context, just look at the picture above and realize that the stone is about the size of the human eye.

Sotheby's Sale of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels 17.05.16

The prized jewel, set in a simple ring, was sold to an Asian private buyer who was bidding via phone. “Exactly one year after having set the world record for a jewelry sale, Sotheby’s Geneva has raised the bar once again with a great sale and a great result for the Unique Pink,” said David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division.

Sotheby’s, who valued the gem at $28 – $38 million, revealed that the Unique Pink was discovered less than five years ago in a South African mine. “It is difficult to imagine a diamond that better illustrates the term Vivid Pink than this outstanding stone. The color is simply astonishing and, for its size, it is in my experience truly unique,” Bennett added.

The Unique Pink (iii)

Tuesday’s auction also saw a 7.32-carat blue diamond being sold for $17.1 million. The magnificent spring jewel auctions continue in Geneva at Christie’s, where the biggest ever vivid blue diamond – the 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue” – will hit the auction block at an estimated $38 — $45 million. The massive gem belonged to Britain’s Sir Philip Oppenheimer, a kingpin in the world diamond market for nearly 50 years at famed jeweller De Beers.

Oppenheimer Diamond To Set New Auction Record?

Tuesday, May 17 sees the Four Seasons des Bergues hotel in Geneva hosting a landmark sale of 280 lots from Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction. Valued at $113 million, the lots include several pieces from Gabriela zu Leiningen as well as the famous Oppenheimer diamond.

The 14.62-carat diamond is one of the star attractions of the auction as it may just beat the sale record set by rival auction house Sotheby’s late last year. Once owned by Phillip Oppenheimer, the man behind the De Beers mining company, the diamond is now valued at between $38 to $45 million. The record to beat is currently held by The Blue Moon of Josephine, sold for $48.4 million, to Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau.

“It’s a fabulous diamond, the most beautiful I have even seen and it could set a record price,” said Jean-Marc Lunel, Christie’s jewel expert. According to Christie’s, the Oppenheimer diamond is the largest ever sold at auction in the exclusive Fancy Vivid Blue category, which groups rare gems of exceptional color and clarity. However, it must be noted that there is still a chance that the Oppenheimer diamond could have the same fate as the 9.54-carat blue diamond ring owned by Shirley Temple. With so much at stake, it is little wonder that this is an auction that many are keeping a eye on.

New York Art Auctions Clinch More Than $1 Bln

New York’s spring art auction season saw the market slow somewhat but not collapse, held up by buying from savvier collectors.

Since the fireworks of the $2.6 billion spring 2015 season, the market has played it by ear, destabilized by China’s economic slowdown. Total sales this season were in excess of $1 billion – in line with expectations.

“There has been a change. There’s a smarter population of people buying,” said Christopher D’Amelio, a partner at the David Zwirner gallery, which has two art spaces in New York and one in London.

“There’s not this kind of trendy euphoria that might have been before,” he said of the auction season.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s had approached the crucial week, which ended Thursday night, with caution.

“Bidding was measured, probably as measured as I’ve seen over the last three or four years,” said Jussi Pylkkanen, global president of Christie’s International.

“Curating remains very important,” he said, adding that it was important to “choose exactly the right type of works that appeals to the broad market.” The two auction houses managed to move a large proportion of their offerings, with the exception of Monday’s sale in which only two-third of the works were sold.

This season, it was contemporary art that attracted the buzz. On Tuesday, a giant painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat set a new record for the artist at $57.3 million.

Other record-setting sales for artists included a sculpture of Adolf Hitler on his knees, titled “Him” by 55-year-old Italian Maurizio Cattelan, which fetched $17.2 million.

A 1939 painting by Frida Kahlo depicting two nude women sold Thursday for $8 million, the highest price yet for any work by the iconic Mexican artist.

“There’s still a great deal of wealth in the world and … no lack of buyers. It’s just that you have to be fair with your buyers, you have to be correct with your pricing and you have to have good works,” D’Amelio said.

Asian buyers, who everyone feared would stay away, turned up.

“They have been active in the past few years but now they’re starting to understand other genres of art. Abstraction, minimalism, things that were not natural when we started showing there,” said D’Amelio.

“There’s a real growth and a willingness to understand and an appetite and I think I’ve seen the effects of it” at the auctions on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.

The Basquiat painting was purchased by Japanese online shopping entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who spent nearly $100 million in two days on purchases including lesser-known works like a painting by Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie.

Asian buyers are interested in works by abstract painters Willem de Kooning and Joan Mitchell, and the minimalist Donald Judd, said Saara Pritchard, head of contemporary art at Christie’s.

“We’re really focusing on engaging a whole new client base,” Pylkkanen said. “They particularly see 21st and 20th century abstraction through fresh eyes.”

D’Amelio said the Asian buyers’ interest is sincere, and that the trend was “just beginning, actually.”

Vijay Mallya Private Jet On Sale

With the notoriously extravagant Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya out of the country, and countless employees of his ill-fated Kingfisher Airlines left unpaid, things seem terribly bleak for the Indian authorities looking to get the former billionaire to pay his dues. Now, in their wait to see how long Mallya can stay in the UK, they’re moving in on his assets and belongings, hoping that selling some of those precious beauties will cover some of the costs. So, let’s not focus on the downers. Instead, let’s focus on the auction of Mallya’s pristine Airbus A319 aircraft, fitted with all the best luxury fittings such a rapacious individual could afford – hopefully the proceeds will go to the people who need it most.

This aircraft is set up with lusciously stylized interiors, various facilities like a bar (naturally, for a businessman who made part of his fortune in spirits), shower cabin, and private resting area. Most importantly, it’s also fitted out with Mallya’s own vanity plate. The Indian government will hold the auction on June 29 through the state-run agent MSTC Ltd.

So, it looks like whoever wants a slice of this pie can still get wet their beaks, so to speak. You can check out the nitty gritty details of the lot over here. While India is trying to squeeze him out, we can only comment that these kinds of affairs constitute a terrible waste for everyone in general.

Large Basquiat Sells for $57 Million at Christie’s

Untitled (1982) by the street art-inspired Neo-Expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat has sold for $57 million at a Post-War and Contemporary Art sale over at Christie’s New York, making it the top lot of the sale. The entire sale fetched a total of around $318 million across its 61 lots, outdoing the lackluster Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby’s that only managed $144 million across 62 lots.

“This painting drew intense competition that dispelled questions of a market contraction. We are particularly happy that the work was acquired by a collector in Asia, demonstrating the global scope of the masterpiece market” commented Brett Gorvy, the Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art. The other top seller of the auction was Mark Rothko’s No. 17, which managed around $32 million. The sale established five new world record auctions for artists other than Basquiat: Agnes Martin, Mike Kelley, Richard Prince, Kerry James Marshall and Barry X Ball.

Basquiat is well known for his wild frenetic style, mixed in with his own eccentric visual language drawing from a rich symbology – skulls, masks, crowns – and other hermetic motifs that seemingly refer to his African heritage. In this Basquiat painting, he utilizes a drawing of a blackened skull fitted with horns, with colorful streaks dripped at the side, and a swirling ambiguous background of pinks, blues, and browns. The stripped down and cartoony style of the skull places the work firmly in pop art as well, which Basquiat was deeply influenced by, being one of the members frequenting Andy Warhol’s Factory studio. The whole painting is 94 by 197 inches, giving an epic propensity to the artist’s inner struggles.

The oeuvre of Basquiat fits well into the Neo-Expressionist movement of the late 20th century. Calling to mind the influence of earlier expressionists such as Edvard Munch, Egon Schiele, and Emil Nolde, these painters drew less figuratively and gave more psychological weight to every stroke, splaying color across the canvas to disfigure the body or landscape. While the past expressionists didn’t exactly cross over into full abstraction, and many still kept to capturing forms, albeit tortured; Neo-Expressionism comes after all that, and brings a full array of contemporary influences to the table.

The influence of Basquiat has spread to countless street artists, painters, even carrying over into our digital era. Blogger and artist Sammy thrashLife has a style that’s frequently compared to the art of Basquiat, especially his works that blend writing together with drawing. Indie and experimental comic artist Sarah Horrocks cited him as influential to her in how “he’d put something in his paintings, and then visibly hide it—that art could be a public secret to yourself—it’s like exhibitionist pain”.

With Picasso failing to sell and Basquiat going strong, the narrative seems to be inverted. Basquiat himself was originally greatly influenced by Picasso’s style.

Images courtesy of CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

Rodin Sells Big At Sotheby’s, Picasso Falters

Sotheby’s achieved mixed results for their Impressionist and Modern Art auction. While they managed to sell Rodin’s Éternel printemps sculpture for close to twice the estimate, other top-billed lots failed to attract the interest of any buyer. One of these was Fauvist André Derain’s Les Voiles Rouges, which was one of the highest estimated at $15-20 million. The other highly estimated Fauvist work, Maurice de Vlaminck’s Sous-Bois, managed to hit $16.38 million.

Other big names that failed to sell include Picasso, Edvard Munch, Marc Chagall, René Magritte, Egon Schiele, and Paul Gauguin. Monet remained spectacular, with a painting selling at $9.8 million (the estimate was $3-5 million). The total raked in for the auction was $144 million.

On the other hand, contemporary art seemed to be better off, with Christie’s Bound to Fail auction pulling a total of around $78 million for 39 lots, managing to sell all their provocative stock, while their Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale raked in around $318 million. Stars from the former includes Maurizio Cattelan’s infamous Hitler sculpture Him which went for around $17 million (slightly above its estimate), and Jeff Koons’ One Ball Total Equilbrium Tank by Jeff Koons, reaching over $15 million. In the latter sale, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s large Untitled made a big splash, going for around $57 million.

Sotheby’s, as a whole, seems to be going through rough times, with Artnet reporting that the revenues for the auction house fell by almost one-third during the first quarter of 2016. With two more contemporary Art sales coming up for them, perhaps they’ll strike lucky next time.

 

This story was written in-house, based various reports, including one from the AFP

Most Expensive Diamond: Lucara Constellation

In the diamond industry, all eyes seem to be on Lucara. They’ve just sold an 813 carat diamond, named The Constellation, for $63 million, which is an all-time record for the sale of a rough diamond. That isn’t the end of it, though. They’ve got an even bigger 1,109 carat one on its way to Sotheby’s in London on June 29. Anyway, what this sale does is set the benchmark for the coming sale, which is now leaving all collectors, observers and probably Sotheby’s auctioneers drooling at what possible unprecedented heights the next auction could reach.

The Constellation name was created as a part of a partnership with rough-diamond trading company Nemesis International DMCC, who, as a part of the sale, will ensure that Lucara will retain 10% interest in the net profit received from resultant polished diamonds sold. Both The Constellation and the Lesedi La Rona are considered Type IIa diamonds, making them some of the rarest and purest out there.

“We are very pleased with the result from the sale of this magnificent 813 carat diamond as well as the opportunity to further participate in profits earned when the polished product is sold. The sale of the 813 carat diamond is the highest price ever achieved for a rough diamond, breaking all records. This achievement solidifies our reputation in the jewelry industry as one of the most important sources of diamonds of the very highest quality. We look forward to the next stage of Lucara’s development with the sale of the spectacular 1,109 carat, Lesedi La Rona diamond which will take place at Sotheby’s London on June 29, 2016” said President and CEO William Lamb.

The effect was immediate. Lucara shares had soared by 8.58 percent by mid-afternoon on the Stockholm market. With high expectations abound, the sale of the Lesedi La Rona is sure to be something to anticipate.

New York Auction Season Set to Open Strong

It’s an art extravaganza for collectors this season, with 1,500 artworks set up to go under the hammer in a mere five days of auctions kicking off Sunday. The main events are various contemporary and modern art sales going down over at Christie’s and Sotheby’s held in the evening. From the most boundary-breaking contemporary art to the most delicately wrought modern art, these are some of the most interesting offerings up on the sales.

Christie’s – Bound to Fail (8 May)

Viewed from the back, a smallish child-sized figure kneels innocently. Walk to the front, and you’ll discover it’s actually a model of the infamous dictator Hitler. Maurizio Cattelan’s Him characterizes a lot of the works in this 39-piece specially curated sale. Creative vision can sometimes be at the expense of critical acclaim and commercial success, and that’s what the works over here aim to show. The name itself stems from Bruce Nauman’s dedication to the sculptor Henry Moore with his sculpture Henry Moore Bound to Fail, depicting a bound torso.

Other pieces on display includes: Marcel Duchamp’s infamous version of the Mona Lisa featuring a goatee; a crucified cartoon frog by Martin Kippenberger; a single basketball submerged in a tank by Jeff Koons; and David Hammons prints made with his body.

Sotheby’s – Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale (9 May)

A good selection of art takes centerstage at this Sotheby’s sale, with famous names such as Picasso, Magritte, Monet, and Gauguin competing for attention. The stars of this sale will probably be two paintings by French artists Maurice de Vlaminck and Andre Derain.

Both artists were a part of the Fauvist movement from the early 20th century that eschewed the normal colors of impressionism for bold brush strokes and bright colors. Derain’s Les Voiles Rouges (estimated $15-$20 million) depicts boats with red sails over a body of water – though the water has been done up with countless strokes of red as well, complementing the sails. The sky also exists as a meld of several colors. Vlaminck’s Sous-Bois (estimated $12-$18 million) is an exuberantly vibrant depiction of natural scenery, with red, blue, green, and yellow mixing into trees, leaves, and grass. These two paintings have never been auctioned before.

Also for sale is Rodin’s L’Eternel Printemps – an exceptionally rare marble sculpture of embracing lovers, estimated to go at $8 – 12 million.

Christie’s – Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale (10 May)

In this sale, Mark Rothko’s No. 17 (estimated $30- $40 million) and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (estimated $40 million) stand as the strongest entries. It also features selections from Richard Prince and rarely seen mobiles from Alexander Calder.

The large Basquiat stands 2.30 meters tall and 5 meters wide, depicting a devilish mask in the center flanked on both sides by violent splashes of paint. Uses of mask, skulls, and other funerary art themes are common in the late-Haitian artist’s work. Rothko’s painting is one of the painter’s rare “blue” canvases, and features his trademark combination of minimalist color blocks.

Sotheby’s – Contemporary Art Evening Auction (11 May)

Francis Bacon’s self-portrait, expected to go up for $22-$30 million, is one of the main attractions here, but also included are works from Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and Basquiat.

Two of Twombly’s paintings are also highly valued, going for possibly more than $40 million dollars and more than $20 million dollars respectively. The first, Untitled (New York City), is a part of his “Tableaux” series. It depicts squiggles on a drab background and shows Twombly’s place at the intersection of Pop Art, Minimalism, and Abstract Expressionism. Another painting from the same series went for a staggering $70.5 million at another Sotheby’s auction last autumn. The second piece, Untitled (Bacchus 1st Version V), is a part of his Bacchus series, and uses a stark blood-red pigment in rigorous strokes to invoke the mythic quality of the namesake god.

Christie’s – Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale (12 May)

The last evening of Christie’s auctions will be dedicated to Modern and Impressionist Art with 52 lots.

The sale is led by many of the standard great names, especially two works by Monet representing the best of his early art, a mousquetaire (depictions of swashbucklers) by Picasso, and a portrait by Modigliani featuring a young girl with a flower.