Tag Archives: auction

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.


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.


“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.

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.


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.


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