Tag Archives: auction

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.

Lesedi la Rona Diamond at Sotheby’s Auction

If you have more $70 million in spare change just lying around and don’t know what to do with it, then maybe you should head down to Sotheby’s London on June 29 and convert it into something easier to handle. The auction house will be hosting a stand-alone auction for the largest rough diamond in existence on that day. How big is it? Just look at the picture above for some context!

The find is one of high significance as this is the largest gem-quality rough diamond to have been discovered in more than 100 years. At 1,109-carats, the gem comes from the Karowe mine in Botswana and has been named Lesedi la Rona or “Our Light “in the Tswana language. Boasting exceptional quality and transparency, the diamond is thought to be somewhere around 2.5 to 3 million years old. Experts at the Gemological Institute of America have found that the color and transparency of the gem ensures there is no nitrogen or boron present in the gem. Only 2% of all gemstone-quality diamonds fall into this highly prized category.

“The Lesedi la Rona is simply outstanding and its discovery is the find of a lifetime” said David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Division. “It is a huge honor for Sotheby’s to have been entrusted with its sale. Every aspect of this auction is unprecedented. Not only is the rough superlative in size and quality, but no rough even remotely of this scale has ever been offered before at public auction” he added.

It remains to be seen if the gem will be able to yield the largest-top-quality diamond but the likelihood of it resulting in in a “D” color polished diamond is high. The only other rough gem diamond to beat the Lesedi la Rona is none other than the Cullinan Diamond from South Africa that weighed 3,106.75-carats. Mined in 1905, the diamond produced nine diamonds that now sit in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. The most significant of the nine diamonds, is none other than the Cullinan I or Great Star of Africa at 530.20-carats, that is still the largest top-quality polished diamond known to man.

Who knows, maybe the Queen would like to add to her collection of gems, much like her grandfather King Edward.

 

Proust Archives to be Auctioned at Sotheby’s

Nowadays, reading Marcel Proust is usually seen as some sort of literary milestone – another mark to tick off on the must-read classics checklist (and something that this writer admits he has yet to achieve). That’s one of the downsides of having your novel be widely known as the ‘longest novel in the world’. Of course, anyone who takes a peek into the one-million-words-plus of Remembrance of Things Past knows that the writer holds much more than that mere record.

Arguably, this mammoth work is the most important single novel ever published in the Western world. To honor the writer’s legacy, Sotheby’s announced that it will be holding a sale of some 120 items from Proust’s personal archives in Paris (sold by the writer’s 41-year-old great-grand-niece Patricia Mante-Proust) – including a hand-corrected proof, photographs, and letters. The auction will commence May 31.

Remembrance of Things Past stands as a gigantic tome that defies any genre classification or convention, being partially autobiographical, though also fictional, and collecting together memories, dreams, events, and philosophical ideas into one great tapestry. Scholars have been excavating the book for ages, trying to track down the real life analogues to the characters, places, and works of art that Proust describes. Thus, pieces from the archives will probably be of great interest to any serious fan.

Some of the notable items are the photos, which depict Proust, his family, and close friends Lucien Daudet and Reynaldo Hahn, who were also his lovers. These hold special literary interest as well, since Proust’s sexuality was only revealed after his death, and it is widely speculated that the author hid traits of his lovers within some of the main female characters of the book. One of the images shows Daudet casting a dreamy gaze at Proust, while leaning an arm on the writer as another friend stands off to one side. The 1896 picture was deemed compromising, and the writer was ordered by his parents to get back any prints of it in circulation.

Also of literary note in the sale are letters from Proust to his father, who did not accept literature as a proper profession. The narrator’s relationship with his parents is also a theme in the novel, which famously opens with a description of his night terrors as a child and his dependence on his mother for comfort.

The crown jewel of the sale will most likely be the actual handwritten proofs for “In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower”, the second part of Remembrance, that includes crossed out passages and corrections. An original edition of “Swann’s Way”, the first volume of Remembrance, which was published in 1913, will also go up for sale. Experts estimate the entire collection will go for 520,000 to 740,000 euros ($600,000 to $850,000).

The daunting Proust has held a certain appeal for decades, and will probably continue to do so until someone churns out the next humongous tome worth looking at (though, the contender for the Proust of this century is the Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgård and his six-novel long autobiography). And for those who haven’t poked at it yet, perhaps it’s time to take a dip into “Swann’s Way”…

This story was written in-house, with an AFP report as background and multiple sources. Image courtesy of Gallimard

Artcurial Auctions Jewelry, Retro Fashion Items

Two collections will go on sale at Paris auction house Artcurial (with its new Hermès Vintage & Fashion Arts department) as a part of its Haute Couture auction on July 4: a collection of haute couture jewelry created for the collections of fashion designers, and items from the catwalk collections of 1980s fashion designer Elisabeth de Senneville. Both collections together provide a good juxtaposition of high elegance and innovative retro fashion.

For those who aren’t exactly sure what the term ‘haute couture jewelry’ means, these were specially crafted jewels made to embellish the collections of the biggest fashion names. The craftsmen worked in close collaboration with fashion houses including Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel and Givenchy to provide small series of jewelry for a handful of wealthy clients. This art form originated in the mid- and late 1930s, before falling out of favor at the end of the 1970s. One hundred such pieces from names such as Roger Jean-Pierre, Maison Gripoix, Roger Scemama and Robert Goossens will appear in the sale.

On the other side, 130 pieces from Elisabeth de Senneville’s archives are set to go under the hammer, with items such as flannelette or brushed cotton garments printed with her “furniture” or “photo story” motifs, as well as sweaters, coats and jackets made from technical fabrics. Her brilliant use of monographing in her pieces is especially notable and even ahead of its time when you consider the proliferation of images resulting from the digital age. The auction celebrates the designer’s avant-garde, artistic and experimental spirit of absolute sincerity.

These two private collections will be accompanied at auction by a selection of Louis Vuitton trunks, Chanel leather goods and haute couture gowns from Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Nina Ricci, Yves Saint Laurent and Paul Poiret. Before the auction itself, the lots will be exhibited July 1-4, 2016, at Artcurial’s Paris showroom, located at 7 rond-point des Champs-Elysées.

You can check out more information over at Artcurial’s website here.

Get the Look: “Purple Rain” Jacket at Auction

The music world might have lost another great but Prince’s wardrobe looks set to create a legacy of its own. The V-neck black and white jacket with leather sleeves – yes, the one in the 1984 film Purple Rain – first appeared in the famous scene where he picked up his co-star Apollonia Kotero.  The iconic piece will go under the hammer, alongside other memorable costumes from Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys and a pair of Swarovski-embellished gloves Michael Jackson wore during his “Dangerous” tour in 1992. Bids for the jacket will start somewhere between $6,000 to $8,000, but of course bids are expected to go much higher at the Profiles in History auction in June.

prince_purplerain

Following his sudden passing on April 21 at his Paisley Park Estate, the influential singer sparked a revived interest in his work, with Purple Rain now showing in more than 150 theaters in the United States.

Burgundy, Bordeaux Wines Bound for Historic Auction

Baghera Wines is holding a special wine auction on May 22 in Geneva, which will include 1,407 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and 3,000 bottles of the finest Bordeaux.

The executive director of Baghera Wine, Michael Ganne, says that this auction is the most important of the last 20 years in continental Europe. The Burgundy winegrowing region of France will take pride of place with its highly renowned Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

It will be a historic moment as 266 lots, or 1,407 bottles, will be auctioned off, with buyers getting their hands on millésimes from as far back as 1966. Bidding will begin at CHF1,600 (approx. €1,450) for a bottle of La Tâche 1966, while a lot of twelve bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1988 has an estimate of CHF120,000 (approx. €109,000).

The importance of the auction is also reflected in the high-end Bordeaux wines, which will be up for grabs. A Château Yquem collection from 1848 to 1976 will go on sale, while a bottle of Yquem 1848 has an estimate of CHF15,000 (approx. €13,600). The sale will include big Bordeaux names such as Lafite-Rothschild (1966), Margaux (1990), Mouton-Rothschild (1982, 2000), Haut-Brion (1945, 1989), Cheval-Blanc (1947), Ausone (1996) and Pétrus (2000).

The auction has a total of 612 lots, with an estimate of CHF6-9 million (approx. €5,500,000).

Lot 549: 1 bottle of Château d'Yquem, 1867. © Baghera Wines

Lot 549: 1 bottle of Château d’Yquem, 1867. © Baghera Wines

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Christie’s Auctions Jewels from Princess Gabriela

It is not every day one can stand a chance to own jewelry that once belonged to royalty. On May 18, Christie’s will give you that opportunity with the sale of exquisite jewels that include several from the collection of H.S.H Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen. The former spouse of the current Aga Khan is letting go of a few memorable and personal pieces that were gifted to her by her second husband (The first being the Prince of Leiningen, hence her title). Before the sale however, the jewels will be on display in Geneva from May 13; the collection is currently making its way to New York as part of a tour.

The Pohl diamond, 36.09 carats

The Pohl diamond, 36.09 carats

“Sophisticated and classically beautiful, H.S.H Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen’s extensive collection is a true reflection of its owner. A woman of charisma, wisdom, elegance and above all joy” said François Curiel. The Chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific added “ Each jewel represents a special moment in her life and the happiness she experienced at the time. We are honored to present superb jewels from her collection and extend to all the wonderful karma it brings.”

The Princess Colombian emerald and diamond necklace, by Cartier, the pendant weighing 39.70 carats.

The Princess Colombian emerald and diamond necklace, by Cartier, the pendant weighing 39.70 carats.

The 46 lots set to go under the hammer in Geneva are estimated to be worth over $15 million. Bidders can expect to see spectacular items from Cartier, Boucheron, Tiffany & Co. and Van Cleef & Arpels. We highlight several key pieces that will certainly excite any avid jewelry collector. The first is the Pohl Diamond. What makes this 36-carat diamond so special is that it was the very first significant diamond that was polished in America (most diamonds are polished in Europe, India or Israel) before it was sold to the Chrysler family in 1943. Having been mined nearly a decade earlier as a 287-carat rough stone, the diamond came into the possession of the princess in 1998 and is now estimated to be worth $3.8 — 5.5 million.

The cultured pearl, diamond and yellow diamond fringe necklace

The cultured pearl, diamond and yellow diamond fringe necklace

The next is a creation by Cartier that would make any woman swoon. The diamond and emerald necklace features a 40-carat Colombian emerald. Worth somewhere between $2.5 — 3.5 million, the necklace with the matching earrings was worn at the official dinner that followed the wedding of Prince Felipe of Spain and Letizia Ortiz back in 2004. The other highlight in the collection is the cultured pearl and diamond fringe necklace. Its owner before coming into the possession of the princess was her former husband’s grandmother, Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. Upon entering her enviable collection of jewelry, a matching pair of ear pendants and a bangle was commissioned from Van Cleef & Arpels to make a complete parure.

The "Persepolis" necklace

The “Persepolis” necklace

Other pieces that will certainly get your attention, include a suite of emerald, diamond and pearl jewelry from Cartier, an elegant five strand pearl and diamond necklace as well as the “Persepolis” necklace and pair of “Persane” earrings. With graduated emerald bead drops and a larger emerald beat pendant suspended, the suite also features a briolette-cut diamond and oval cabochon emerald surmount. The five strand pearl necklace is made up of nearly 500 natural pearls and daimond roundel spacers.With emeralds, diamonds and sapphires of several cuts, the “Persepolis” neckalce and “Persane” earrings are a set that certainly cannot be missed.

The elegant five strand pearl and diamond necklace

The elegant five strand pearl and diamond necklace

“Aside from their beauty, many of these jewels bare a compelling history of their own” said the Princess. She added “To me they embody wonderful and loving personal memories as well as exciting chapters of my life, full of color, travel and encounters. They have brought me great joy and happiness. Now I wish their journey to continue, bringing joy and happiness to their new owners.”

The sale will be held on May 18, 7pm at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. For more information on the auction, visit Christie’s.

Letter Detailing Queen Elizabeth Romance Sold

On Saturday, one private collector walked away from an auction at Chippenham Auction Rooms in southwest England with a rare handwritten letter from Queen Elizabeth. The letter, written nearly seven decades before by the, then—Princess Elizabeth, recounted the early years of her meetings and romance with the man who was born a prince of Greece and Denmark.

The love story that now sees the couple in their nineties, with great-grandchildren, has weathered many a storm. While the letter does not feature detailed accounts such as the time she threw her shoe at the Duke of Edinburgh in a fit of rage, it does give us a first hand account of how the relationship first began. Sold for £14,400 ($20,750, 18,475 euros), the letter was written to author Betty Shew for her book Royal Wedding as a wedding gift.

“The first time I remember meeting Philip was at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in July 1939, just before the war. (We may have met before at the coronation or the Duchess of Kent’s wedding, but I don’t remember),” the future monarch wrote.

“I was 13 years of age and he was 18 and a cadet just due to leave. He joined the Navy at the outbreak of war, and I only saw him very occasionally when he was on leave — I suppose about twice in three years.

“Then when his uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, were away he spent various weekends away with us at Windsor. Then he went to the Pacific and Far East for two years as everyone there will know.”

She said the wedding ring was to be made of Welsh gold and her fiance designed it himself.

“I don’t know the history of the stone, except that it is a very fine old cutting. It was given to me not long before the engagement was announced.”

She told of how Prince Philip danced with her at two London nightclubs and spent six weeks with the royals at Balmoral, their Scottish private retreat.

“We both love dancing — we have danced at Ciro’s and Quaglino’s as well at parties,” she wrote.

“We first started seeing more of each other when Philip went for a two-year job to the R.N Petty Officers School at Corsham — before that we hardly knew each other.”