Tag Archives: auction

8 Top Selling Artists 2015

Often anticapitalist by nature and sometimes offering scathing critiques of socio-economic systems, contemporary art is paradoxically highly sought-after for its commercial potential. While classics famously hold their value well enough to be considered an asset class, contemporary art  – where the artist is frequently alive and still working – is required to demonstrate its potential at auction regularly. Of course, the value of most contemporary art is nebulous but therein lies the excitement.

Our friends at Art Republik give us the low-down on eight living artists whose best-selling work combined nets more than USD150 million…

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Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania, United States of America. He received his B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1976. Koons is known for his exploration of contemporary consumer culture in his oeuvre. His series of works include “Equilibrium” (1985), which feature ready-made basketballs floating in distilled water in tanks made of glass and steel,  “Banality” (1988), mostly sculptures of toys and popular icons rendered in porcelain and polychromed wood, and “Made in Heaven” (1989-1991), centered around photorealist paintings and sculptures of the artist engaged in sexual intercourse in varied positions with his ex-wife Ilona Staller, an adult film star.

Koons’ “Balloon Dog” sculptures in five color versions – blue, magenta, yellow, orange and red – are probably among his most well known works. These are from the “Celebration” series, which presents giant mirror-polished stainless steel sculptures with transparent color coating.

The artist has pioneered new techniques for the making of his artworks. For the “Celebration” series, for example, he collaborated with Arnold AG, a metalwork mill in Germany to make the sculptures’ high-shine surface. In addition, he used the CAT scan, typically used in hospitals, to get an all-round imaging of subjects so that the enlarged versions could be reproduced to perfection. He also has a unique way of working. Koons’ works are made in a studio that employs more than 100 assistants who fabricate his work.

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“Balloon Dog (Orange)”

2008 was a particularly productive year for Koons, with solo exhibitions at Château de Versailles, France, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. More recently, in 2014, “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective”, was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It has now traveled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and will be at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao later in the year.

Koons’ first million-dollar work sold was the “Pink Panther” (1988) from the “Banality” series, which transacted at Christie’s in 1999 for USD1.8 million (1988). In 2013, he became the most expensive living artist when “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for USD52 million at Christie’s. He holds the title to this date.

Koons lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: David Zwirner Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Galerie Max Hetzler
  • Big Break: Koons’ “Banality” series (1988), featuring the work, “Michael Jackson and Bubbles”, exhibited at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York City in 1989.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Balloon Dog (Orange)”, 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307.3 x 363.2 x 114.3cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD58.4 million. Sold at Christie’s, New York, November 2013

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Zeng Fanzhi, Mask Series No. 5, 1994, oil on canvas, 180 x 150 cm. Sold at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, October 2010.

Zeng Fanzhi

Zeng Fanzhi was born in Wuhan, China in 1964. He graduated from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in 1991, where he specialized in oil painting.

Before moving to Beijing in 1993, he began painting the “Hospital” series, showing tableaus from the hospital, and the “Meat” series that contrast human beings with butchered meat, inspired by the hospital and the butcher’s shop he lived next to. From these first works, the characters began to be drawn with disproportionately larger hands, which persisted into his “Mask” series.

Zeng Fanzhi is probably best known for his paintings in this series of figures standing in groups or alone, wearing white masks with big smiles. This was motivated by his interactions with people in the capital of China, whom he thought hid their true identities and feelings from others and perhaps from themselves as well, in a representation of the Chinese people’s feelings of isolation in the decade after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

An adventurous artist who has experimented with different styles, Zeng began drawing landscapes in 2004, mostly covered with bare intertwining branches, inspired by the unexpected beauty he saw in a pot of Chinese wisteria in his studio. He also painted portraits of luminaries in western culture such as Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol in 2010.

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“The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm.

Zeng first set a new world auction record for Chinese contemporary art in May 2008, when his diptych Mask Series 1996 No. 6 sold for USD9.7 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong. This featured eight members of the Young Pioneers, the Communist Party’s youth movement, wearing their representative red scarves, and Zeng’s signature masks. In 2013, his painting, “The Last Supper” sold for USD23 million at Sotheby’s. He remains the most expensive living Asian artist.

In the same year, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presented the first French retrospective of 40 paintings and sculptures from Zeng made between 1990 and 2012.

Zeng lives and works in Beijing.

In Brief

  • Age: 51
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Acquavella Galleries, Gallery Hyundai, ShangArt, Hanart TZ Gallery
  • Big Break: Fresh out of art school, paintings from Zeng Fanzhi’s “Hospital” series were selected by Johnson Chang from Hanart TZ Gallery based in Hong Kong to be included in an exhibition at Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1993 titled “China’s New Art, Post-1989”. This introduced the artist to the art community, and at the same time gave Zeng tremendous encouragement to continue pursuing his career as an artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD23.3 million, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2013

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Installation view, Takashi Murakami’s exhibition, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 10 November – January 17 2015 © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, and received his BFA, MFA and PhD from the Tokyo University of the Arts, formerly the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

A multi-hyphenate, Murakami is involved in many aspects of the art world, and works as an artist, a gallerist, a curator and an art theorist, among others. He founded the Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996 for the production of his works, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., an art production and art management corporation. In addition to the production and marketing of Murakami’s art and related work, it manages and promotes emerging artists.

Murakami has organized several influential exhibitions based on the theory of a tradition of a pervasive superflat look in contemporary Japanese visual culture, typified by manga, which refer to comic books, and anime, which refer to animation, that tend towards two-dimensionality. The first exhibition, titled simply “Superflat”, was held at Parco Gallery in Tokyo and Nagoya. It subsequently traveled to MoCA gallery in the Pacific Design Centre in Los Angeles, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, in 2001. He has followed up with exhibitions such as “Coloriage” at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris in 2002 and “Little Boy: The Art of Japan’s Exploding Subcultures” at the Japan Society in New York in 2005.

A pioneer in art-fashion collaborations, Murakami began working with Louis Vuitton in 2003. He first created the “Monogram Multicolore”, which featured the “LV” monogram in 33 bright colors. Since then, he has made special prints for the luxury fashion house’s leather goods that incorporate motifs such as cherry blossoms and pandas. In 2008, the limited edition “Monogramouflage” collection, for all products from iPhone cases to luggage, featured a juxtaposition of the khaki and beige camouflage print and the Louis Vuitton monogram.

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Takashi Murakami, “Lionel Messi and a Universe of Flowers,” 2014, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas laid down on board, 70 7/8 x 70 7/8 in

A notable recent exhibition is “Takashi in Superflat Wonderland” at the PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul Korea in late 2013, where some of the artist’s most iconic works were on display, including one of the artist’s “Superflat Flowers” sculptures made in 2010. Also in the exhibition was a fiberglass sculpture of “Miss Ko2”, a buxom character created by Murakami as a commentary on otaku culture, an obsession with anime and manga, and the resultant desire to have these unreal characters come to life.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Murakami is constantly innovating. In 2013, he released his first feature film, “Jellyfish Eyes”, which mixes live action with cartoon characters, with plans for a sequel.

Murakami lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 53
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Blum & Poe, Galerie Perrotin, Kaikai Kiki Gallery
  • Big Break: Murakami had an international traveling retrospective, “©Murakami”, showing over 90 works by the artist that kicked off at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles in 2008. In an interview in W Magazine in April 2013, Murakami said that this exhibition was a turning point in his career, stating that he thought the conventional view before the exhibition was that he was merely an artist influenced by Japanese subculture. The exhibition was persuasive of the strength of his artworks to have a place in art history.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “My Lonesome Cowboy”, 1998, oil, acrylic, fiberglass, iron, 254 x 116.8 x 91.4cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD15.1 million, Sotheby’s, New York, May 2008

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Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 211 x 234 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, London, July 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963, and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London, where she earned her Master’s degree in 1989.

Emin’s art is inspired by her personal life. Her artworks reflect universal emotions and are both relatable and confrontational. These are created in wide range of mediums, including, painting, photography, textile, video, installation and sculpture.

In 1999, Emin was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, an annual prize awarded to a British visual artist below the age of 50. This was for her provocative work, “My Bed”, an installation of the artist’s bed complete with liquor bottles, cigarette butts, worn underwear, condoms and rumpled stained bedsheets, the scene of a post-breakup breakdown.

Among other works by Emin are her “I’ve Got It All” photograph from 2000 showing the artist seated on the floor with ample cleavage, her legs wide open, bills and coins pressed against her crotch. She is also known for her neon light installations, which she has produced since the 1990s, featuring evocative messages such as “You Forgot to Kiss My Soul” (2001) and “You Loved Me Like a Distant Star” (2012).

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Tracey Emin

Emin has exhibited extensively. In 2007, she represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale. The first major retrospective exhibition of Emin’s work opened at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2008, and traveled to Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain and the Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland. In May 2011, Emin had a major survey exhibition, “Love is What You Want” at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Emin currently lives and works in London.

In Brief

  • Age 52
  • Nationality British
  • Gallery Representation Lehmann Maupin, White Cube
  • Big Break Charles Saatchi’s “Sensation” exhibition at the Royal Academy, London included Emin’s much-discussed work “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995”, which was a tent embroidered with over 100 names of people she had slept with, including 32 lovers, and 80 people she had only slept next to.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold “My Bed”, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 79 x 211 x 234 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, London, July 2014

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Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.6 x 250.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Sotheby’s, London, February 2015. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. He studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art, in Düsseldorf under the eminent German artist Karl Otto Götz from 1961 to 1964.

Richter has had an illustrious career spanning over half a century. Beginning in the 1960s, the author painted, in grey scale, renditions of blown-up blurred black-and-white photographs he had taken of still lifes, portraits and landscapes, such as “Kitchen Chair” (1965), “Helen” (1963) and possibly his most well-known work of the period, “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), measuring nearly 3 meters by 3 meters, featuring the Cathedral Square in Milan. This iconic work appears to vibrate with Richter’s signature fuzzy blur in his photo-paintings, which had the capacity to soften or destabilize an image.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Richter created his “Colour Chart” and “Grey Paintings” series that were based on his exploration of color. “1024 Colours” was made in four unique editions, and feature neat ovoids of 1024 different colors painted in a grid at random. His “Grey Paintings” were inspired by the use of shades of the color in his photo-based paintings.

In the 1980s, Richter started to apply a squeegee across the canvas to scrape and smear freshly laid paint to create intuitive paintings that revealed hidden layers, and from the 1990s, the tool was applied both horizontally and vertically to create new possibilities in the final works.

Richter has exhibited all over the world. He had a major exhibition, “Abstract Paintings”, in 1978 at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, which traveled to the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. In 1988, the artist was given his first North American retrospective, jointly organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The exhibition traveled to Washington and San Francisco. In 2002, a 40-year retrospective of Richter’s work was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in 2011, a major retrospective of the artist’s works opened at the Tate Modern, London and traveled to the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Richter has also participated in multiple editions of the Venice Biennale and the Documenta in Kassel since 1972.

In 2012, Richter became the most expensive living artist after his work, “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)” (1994), sold for USD33 million in London, a title he held until 2013. Most recently, in February 2015, another “Abstraktes Bild” work, this one painted in 1986, sold for USD37 million, which made him the most expensive living artist
in Europe.

Richter has lived and worked in Cologne since 1983.

In Brief

  • Age: 83
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Marian Goodman Gallery, Scott White Contemporary Art
  • Big Break: In 1968, Richter was commisioned by Siemens AG to make a work to hang in their Milan offices. The result was “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), at the time the artist’s largest figurative painting, and probably the most accomplished
  • photo-painting by the artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Abstraktes Bild”, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.5 x 250.5cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD46.3 million, Sotheby’s, London, February 2015

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Exhibition view of Yayoi Kusama, Ota Fine Arts, Singapore. Photography by Quek Jia Liang. Image courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929. She moved to the United States in 1957 before moving back to Japan in 1973. Kusama has had a rich and varied career as an artist for over five decades. Her works are in various mediums, including painting, sculpture, performance and installation. Among her most well known works are the “Infinity Net” paintings she began making in the late 1950s, made by adding white arcs onto a darker background on a large canvas. The “Accumulation” sculptures came after, and feature soft-sculptures she made by stitching cotton-stuffed cloth into phallic shapes to attach to furniture and clothing, as well as her trademark polka dot designs in both two- and three-dimensional works. In her time in New York in the 1960s, she was also a performance artist who staged provocative happenings, such as painting people in the nude in her trademark polka dots.

Kusama has exhibited all over the world. In 1993, she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale, for which she created an installation with a mirror room and multiple yellow pumpkin sculptures, the beginnings of similar sculptures covered in uneven black dots. In 1998, a major retrospective of her work made in New York, opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of art before traveling to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

Notably, from 2011 to 2012, a touring exhibition of her works made its way to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London as well as the Whitney Museum in New York.

In 2012, Kusama collaborated with Louis Vuitton in an ambitious project that saw products such as leather goods and ready-to-wear fashion, in prints featuring Kusama’s signature polka dots – black polka dots against a yellow background, white against black and red against white, which took center stage in window displays of 460 Louis Vuitton stores in 64 countries, as well as seven special concept stores in Paris, London, and Tokyo.

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Yayoi Kusama, Shellfish, 1989, screenprint, 53.5 x 46 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Ota Fine Arts.

In the past decade, Kusama has created immersive installations of walk-in rooms that create disorienting experiences for the viewer. “Fireflies on the Water” (2002) features 150 lights and a pool of water in the center of a room, whose surfaces are all covered with mirrors that give multiple reflections. “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” at the David Zwirner Gallery in late 2013 played on a similar concept with 75 colored LED lights that glimmered and pulsed in a small mirrored room. Another recent installation is “The Obliteration Room”, currently at the Queensland Art Gallery, where children add colorful dot stickers to white furniture, objects and surfaces.

Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 86
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, David Zwirner Gallery
  • Big Break: Kusama has had a long and successful career, but probably became a global household name when she collaborated with Louis Vuitton in 2012, which included not only a full range of products carrying her signature polka dots, but also the window displays of the luxury fashion house’s stores in over 60 countries.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “White No. 28”, 1960, oil on canvas, 147.6 x 111.1cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD7.1 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #463, 2007/2008, chromogenic color print, 174.2 x 182.9 cm, edition of 6. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American artist born in 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She graduated from State University College, Buffalo, New York, in 1976. Her photographs have seen her take on multiple roles since her first series, “Untitled Film Stills” in the late 1970s, and continuing with “Centrefolds” (1981), in which she was photographed in an intimate setting as a vulnerable character, and “Fashion” (1983-84), exploring the objectification of women in the still image. The artist is at the center of each photograph, but in different guises, as she plays with identity through dress, transforming her image through hair, make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics.

Sherman has continued to create chameleon-like transformations in performative photographic works, such as in her humorous interpretations of old master paintings as photographs between 1989 and 1990, where she became the portraits’ subjects. Another series of similar works, this time with society portraits in 2008, saw Sherman dressed as aging socialites against moneyed backgrounds. These works poked fun at the trappings of excessive wealth and the obsession with youth and on-the-surface perfection in contemporary society.

While she is most famous for her more light-hearted self-portraits in different roles, she has created a significant number of works that are darker in nature. Beginning in the mid-1980s, her body of work expanded to include the “Fairy Tales” and Disasters” series that show grotesque scenes from which the artist is mostly absent. Other dark series include “Sex and Death” in the late 19080s, photographed using disfigured mannequins, “Pure Horror” in the mid-1990s and “Clowns” in the mid-2000s.

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Cindy Sherman, “Untitled Film Stills”, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Sherman has had numerous solo exhibitions at home and abroad since the 1980s. Of particular note is a survey at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012, which showcased more than 170 photographs from the artist’s extensive body of work. The exhibition also included the debut of Sherman’s new photographic murals, which saw her image manipulated digitally against a decorative toile background.

Sherman lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 61
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: Metro Pictures, Galerie Sprüth Magers
  • Big Break: “Untitled Film Stills”, shown at the landmark performance and video space The Kitchen in New York in 1980, was Sherman’s breakthrough. In these black-and-white photos, the artist took on 69 stereotypical female roles in movies such as the housewife and the femme fatale.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Untitled Film Stills”, 1977, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD6.8 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

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Andreas Gursky, Rhein II, 1999, chromogenic colour print face-mounted to plexiglass, 185.4 x 363.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2011. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1955. He first studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, formerly Folkwang Academy in Essen. He then attended the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf and studied under the influential German photographers Hilla and Bernd Becher from 1981 to 1987.

Gursky is known for his large-scale magnified photographs of varied scenes, which can measure up to 2 by 5 meters, reveal the conditions of contemporary times. Usually taken from an elevated vantage point, the artist’s photographic works are known for their stunning and often overwhelming clarity.

In the 1990s, Gursky began experimenting with digital manipulation through shooting the images on chromogenic prints, or c-prints using a large-format camera, then scanning the images for reworking on the computer to create his massive and precise photographs. One of the earliest works made this way was “Paris, Montparnasse” (1993), which showed an inhabited apartment building, and highlighted its uniformed structure and crowdedness in a commentary on the cookie-cutter mold of contemporary urban living. In “Rhein II”, Gursky merged photographs of different parts of the river together to exclude industrial activity, creating an imaginary serene landscape.

In 2011, this work became the most expensive photograph sold at auction.

A recurring theme in Gursky’s work is the effects of capitalism and globalization in contemporary society that put in place invisible systems. Perhaps his most recognizable images from the 1990s are of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1990, which, in contrast to “Rhein II”, shows a flurry of activity reflective of the trading floor’s organized chaos, with traders at the pit surrounded by circular rows of computers. In “99 Cent II Diptychon” (2001), which shows the interior of a 99 Cents Only store, the bright colors red, yellow and orange of rows of boxes were edited to jump out from the photograph, aided by the addition of a mirrored ceiling. The visually impressive work provided a stark reflection of an obsessive consumer culture in contemporary society.

From the mid-2000s, Gursky has worked on numerous projects in Asia, including Japan, Thailand, China and North Korea, among others. “Pyongyang”, a series of photographs of the annual Arirang Festival in North Korea in 2007 presented the heavily directed spectacle to the rest of the world. In taking the festival proceedings such as choreographed mass dances from a great distance, the resulting images look like colorful tapestries, and show the insignificance of the individual within the society.

Gursky has exhibited internationally. A 2001 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York traveled to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

In recent years, Gursky has also exhibited small photographs atypical to the rest of his oeuvre, such as in “Werke-Works 80-08,” which opened in Kunstmuseen Krefeld in Germany in 2008, and toured to Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Vancouver Art Gallery in 2009.

Gursky lives and works in Düsseldorf.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Galerie Sprüth Magers, Mai 36 Galerie, Matthew Marks Gallery
  • Big Break: Gursky acquired worldwide fame with his major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, in 2001.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Rhein II”, 1999, chromogenic print, Plexiglass, 207 x 385.5 x 6.2cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2011

Story Credits

Text by Nadya Wang

Krug cellars

Century-old Krug champagne sold for $116,000

Krug cellars

A bottle of 1915 Krug champagne went under the hammer for $116,375 in New York, one of just four left in the cellars of the sparkling drink makers.

The lot sold Friday also included a tasting journey for four people who will enjoy the bottle on location in France’s northeastern Champagne region.

In 2011, a bottle of 1841 Veuve Clicquot 1841 was purchased for a record 30,000 euros ($43,000). And two 1959 Dom Perignon Rose bottles fetched $84,700 at wine auctioneers Acker Merrall & Condit in 2008.

The Veuve Clicquot bottle had spent an estimated 180 years under water in the hold of a schooner off the Finnish coast.

The Krug bottle, sold during a Sotheby’s auction, never left the House of Krug cellars, today managed by luxury conglomerate LVMH.

The anonymous buyer of the bottle will visit the House of Krug for two days with three guests.

In addition to the Private Cuvee 1915, the buyer will also taste some of the rarest and most refined drinks made there, as well as a meal prepared by Arnaud Lallement at his restaurant L’Assiette Champenoise.

Blue Moon Diamond

$55 million Blue Moon diamond headed to auction

Blue Moon Diamond

A blue diamond weighing 12.03 carats could sell for a record $55 million when it goes up for auction in November, Sotheby’s said Thursday.

The Blue Moon diamond, discovered in South Africa in January last year, will be exhibited in Hong Kong, London and New York before its likely purchase at auction in Geneva on November 11.

“The Blue Moon diamond is a simply sensational stone of perfect colour and purity,” David Bennett, who heads Sotheby’s international jewellery division, said in a statement.

He added that the immense hype which followed the stone’s discovery “has now been proven to have been totally justified.”

The Gemological Institute of America previously declared the Blue Moon to be “internally flawless”.

Categorised as a fancy vivid blue diamond, the Blue Moon is the largest cushion-shaped stone in that category to ever appear at auction.

Sotheby’s put its estimated sale price between $35-$55 million which, at the higher end, would mark a record for any diamond sale.

In November 2010, a 24.78 carats pink diamond — known as the Graff Pink — sold in Geneva for just over $46 million.

The record sale for a blue diamond so far came in November last year, when a 9.75 carats fetched $32.6 million at an auction in New York.

Blue Moon blue Diamond

Janis Joplin Porsche

Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche on auction block

Janis Joplin Porsche

The famous psychedelic Porsche convertible driven by late singing legend Janis Joplin is going up for sale.

Auction house RM Sotheby’s announced Tuesday that the Porsche 356C 1600 Cabriolet would go on the block on December 10 in New York and estimated the sale would generate more than $400,000.

Joplin — who sang “Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz” in one of her best-known songs — had instead bought another German luxury car but found the 1965 Porsche’s original white finish too dull.

She had it painted red with a mural that included images of butterflies and jellyfish, as well as of Joplin and her band.

Janis Joplin Porsche auction

Joplin constantly drove the car, which was parked outside the Hollywood hotel where she died of an overdose in 1970.

The Porsche has since belonged to Joplin’s family, which lent it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland where it was on display from 1995 until this week after the family decided to sell it.

Last Titanic lunch menu

Titanic’s Last Lunch Menu Up for Auction

Last Titanic lunch menu

Three artifacts belonging to passengers who survived the 1912 sinking of the Titanic are to be sold online next month. The items are a letter written by a survivor, a menu and a ticket to the Turkish bath aboard the vessel.

The September 30 Internet sale is being held by Lion Heart Autographs, and the online auction house Invaluable.com, and coincides with the 30-year anniversary in September of the discovery of the RMS Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Bidding will get underway at noon (1600 GMT) on September 30, with would-be buyers from around the world able to take part.

The menu shows the meal served at the last luncheon aboard the Titanic, and is expected to fetch as much as $70,000.

The letter was written by one Titanic survivor to another six months after the disaster, and makes mention of the ordeal.

Also on sale is one of only four known printed tickets from the Titanic’s weighing chair, a device used to record a person’s weight in the Titanic’s Turkish Baths’ cooling room.

Each of the items belonged to some of the very few passengers who succeeded in escaping from the disaster by boarding Life Number One, made infamous by several Titanic crew members who rowed away in it to flee, leaving more than 1,500 to perish in the icy water.

Bolin Grand Piano

ABBA’s piano up for auction in London

Bolin Grand Piano

The piano that featured on many of ABBA’s greatest hits is going under the hammer next month in London, auctioneers Sotheby’s said Thursday.

The piano is estimated to fetch between £600,000 and £800,000 ($925,000-$1.24 million) when it goes on sale on September 29.

Swedish pop foursome ABBA dominated the 1970s disco scene with their catchy, finely-crafted songs.

“The opening piano glissando from ‘Dancing Queen’ is one of the most distinctive sounds of the 1970s and we are delighted to offer the actual instrument used by the legendary ABBA in their major recordings,” said Sotheby’s expert Philip W. Errington.

“The piano itself is an instrument of real importance and with the added ABBA provenance we expect it will have worldwide appeal.”

It was built by the inventive Swedish musical instrument designer Georg Bolin for the US jazz pianist Bill Evans.

The New York Times described it in 1964 as a “space-age piano”.

It was bought by Stockholm’s Metronome Studios in 1967 and appeared on nearly all of ABBA’s recordings between 1973 and 1977.

It featured on hits including “Dancing Queen”, “Waterloo”, “SOS”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Mamma Mia”, and “Ring Ring”.

“The Bolin Grand, one of a kind and a great source of inspiration while working in the recording studio during the ABBA sessions!”, said the group’s pianist Benny Andersson.

The foursome — Andersson, Bjoern Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faeltskog — went their separate ways in 1983 and have never performed together since.

1962 Ferrari 250GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale

Unique Bertone-designed Ferrari could fetch $16 million

1962 Ferrari 250GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale

Too many classic cars that fall under the auctioneer’s hammer are described as historic and as being masterpieces in the accompanying catalogue. But in the case of this unique Ferrari there could no truer terms.

The car, a 1962 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale, sports a shark-nose body built by legendary designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro under the guidance of his boss, Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone.

Nuccio Bertone never saw himself as a designer, but as the head of Carrozzeria Bertone — the design studio he managed until his death in 1997, he proved himself perhaps the world’s greatest design talent scout.

He unearthed and polished to perfection the abilities of Giorgetto Giugiaro and Marcello Gandini and under his wing, they developed some of the most beautiful, challenging and influential cars of the 20th century including the Lamborghini Miura and its follow-up the Countach, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint and the Lancia Stratos.

But despite the company’s success, Bertone was frustrated that the company was yet to design a Ferrari. In 1962 he took matters into his own hands, buying a 250GT SWB chassis from Ferrari and, with Giugiaro’s help, created the car that will go under the hammer at Gooding & Co’s Pebble Beach auction on August 15 and 16.

As well as the shark nose, the car’s exterior seamlessly integrated a number of racing-inspired design cues while inside, the cabin’s comfort and luxury were taken to another level. The seats were trimmed in leather, the steering wheel redesigned and the windows electrically operated.

Bertone kept the car as his personal run-around before selling it on a year later. And while it’s changed hands several times since, it has never before come up for auction.

What makes the auctioneers certain that this car is on the verge of fetching $16 million is the Giugiaro as much as the Bertone factor.

This was only the third car Giugiaro had ever had a hand in styling but he would go on to build up one of the most impressive portfolios of anyone in the automotive design world, full of everything from Alfas and Lamborghinis to the Lotus Esprit and the Volkswagen Golf, but only this one Ferrari.

As for Bertone, when the company finally got the chance to design for Ferrari, the Dino 208 GT4 was poorly received upon its debut in 1973 and Ferrari returned to Pininfarina for its replacement in 1980. A situation that Nuccio Bertone considered one of his greatest regrets in life.

Mercedes-Benz 600 limousines

Artcurial to offer the limousines of Maria Callas at auction

Mercedes-Benz 600 limousines

On Monday, July 20, auction house Artcurial is putting up for sale a collection of 11 cars from the estate of a friend of the Callas family, including two limousines that belonged to the famous opera singer herself.

Offered without reserve, these two Mercedes-Benz 600 limousines, from 1966 and 1971, are estimated at between €60,000 and €100,000.

First presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963, the Mercedes 600 aimed to break into the luxury market until then dominated by Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

The idea was also to seduce the stars of show business, as was the case with Maria Callas. The Mercedes 600 was celebrated for combining power (250hp), technology (a complex 150-bar (2,176 psi)) hydraulic pressure system powered the automobile’s windows, seats, sun-roof, trunk lid and automatically closing doors) and comfort (adjustable air suspension delivered excellent ride quality and sure handling over any road surface).

The “Succession d’un ami de Maria Callas” auction will take place on Monday, July 20, at 5pm in the salon Belle époque at the Hotel Hermitage in Monaco. For more info, go to artcurial.com.

 

Spanish gold chalice

Spanish treasure from 17th century on sale in New York

Spanish gold chalice

An exquisite gold chalice, an emerald-encrusted cross and silver coins go on auction in New York next month, recovered from a Spanish ship that sank off the coast of Florida in 1622.

The extraordinary items were discovered by a US treasure hunter from the wreckage of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, the most famous vessel in a Spanish flotilla that sank after sailing into a hurricane.

The ship, laden with New World riches and heading back to Spain, was one of nine ships that sank in the storm. She went down with 265 people on board, of whom only five survived.

After a painstaking, expensive search taking more than 15 years, Mel Fisher located the wreckage on July 20, 1985, recovering $450 million worth of treasure, including coins and precious jewelry.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the discovery, Guernsey’s says it is auctioning nearly 40 items retrieved from the Atocha and other wrecks found by Fisher, on August 5 in New York.

Among items under the hammer will be 100 rare and sought-after silver coins from the Atocha and her sister ship, the Santa Margarita.

Emerald Cross

bunch of Ruby Roman grapes

Bunch of grapes sells for record $8,200 in Japan

bunch of Ruby Roman grapes

A bunch of Japanese grapes has sold for a record one million yen ($8,200), or $315 per berry — no trifling matter even in a country where fruit can cost a small fortune.

The record-setting bunch of 26 “Ruby Roman” grapes was the highest-priced at this year’s first auction in Kanazawa, 300 kilometres northwest of Tokyo, smashing the previous record of 550,000 yen set last year.

Each berry weighs at least 20 grams (three-quarters of an ounce) and is the size of a ping-pong ball, according to the local board of agriculture.

Winning bidder Masayuki Hirai, head chef of the Nikko hotel in Kanazawa, told media he had been under strict orders, with local tourism chiefs eager to capitalise on a new train line to the area.

“With the opening of the Hokuriku shinkansen (bullet train) line, I was told to win the bidding at any cost,” he said.

For connoisseurs of eye-wateringly-priced fruit, Japan is Seventh Heaven.

Earlier this year, a pair of Yubari melons from Hokkaido, northern Japan, were snapped up for a jaw-dropping 1.5 million yen.

Meanwhile, a Japanese department store thought nothing of shelling out 300,000 yen for a pair of pristine mangoes grown in southern Japan.

1986 Ferrari Testarossa

‘Miami Vice’ Ferrari up for auction

1986 Ferrari Testarossa

The white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa used extensively in the classic 80s cop show will be going under the hammer at the Mecum Daytime Auction in Monterey this August.

The star of Miami Vice wasn’t Don Johnson, or Philip Michael Thomas, it was the bright white Ferrari Testarossa that the undercover cops raced through the streets on the trail of drug dealers and other miscreants.

Famously the car was black when it arrived on set but director and executive producer Michael Man decided to have it repainted white so that it could be seen clearly during night-time scenes – unwittingly sparking a trend for white supercars the process.

The Testarossa has been sitting in storage since the show finished in 1989 and was only unpacked earlier this year for a full engine-out service.

It has 16124 miles on the clock and has been authenticated by Ferrari Classiche, and while Mecum is yet to place an estimate on the car, a standard, immaculate Testarossa can easily fetch over $150000 at auction.

But for a car as iconic as this the figure could be 10 times higher.

hero diamonds Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto puts ‘vivid’ pink and red diamonds on market

hero diamonds Rio Tinto

Sixty-five extremely rare pink and red diamonds were unveiled Friday by mining giant Rio Tinto which expects the stones from a remote western Australia mine to fetch record prices.

The diamonds come from the Anglo-Australian firm’s Argyle mine — where more than 90% of the world’s pink and red jewels are produced each year.

“This year, we probably have the most valuable tender ever,” Rio Tinto diamonds and minerals chief executive Alan Davies told AFP”.

“So we’ve got a number of fancy reds and the colour and the clarity this year is truly unique. They are so rare that all of the pinks you can have in the palm of your hand and all the reds you can count on one hand, so they truly are in the category of luxury collection.”

Argyle Prima diamond

The 2015 collection features five “hero” gems, including a 1.93 carat fancy vivid purplish pink shield-shaped diamond and a 1.47 carat fancy red oval-shaped jewel.

This year’s selection, which weighs a total of 44.14 carats, had some of the “most vivid” pink and red diamonds ever unearthed from the mine.

The jewels are around 1.6 billion years old and routinely fetch US$1-2 million a carat. As a basic rule of thumb, pink and red diamonds are worth about 50 times more than white diamonds.

It is not known how the diamonds acquired their pink or red tinge but it is thought to come from a molecular structure distortion as the jewel forms in the earth’s crust or makes its way to the surface.

1991 Ferrari F40

Ferrari F40 breaks records at the Artcurial auction

1991 Ferrari F40

The 8th edition of the “Automobiles sur les Champs” auction by the Artcurial auction house brought in a total of 11.2 millions euros after 80% of the lots were sold.

At the auction, Artcurial broke six world records with a Porsche 911 ST 2.3L Rallye Coupé (sold for €908,900), a Bugatti Type 13 Brescia (€905,900), an Alpine A210 Berlinette Le Mans (€478,000), a Maserati Khamsin (€274,200), a Ferrari 308 GTB (€202,600) and a Fiat Dino 2400 Spider (€188,300).

As for the biggest sale of the night, all eyes were on a 1991 Ferrari F40 that was valued between 900,000 and 1.1 million euros and ultimately sold for €1,013,000.

Captain Nemo Nautilus Car

An ‘extraordinary’ car is about to go under the hammer

Captain Nemo Nautilus Car

Captain Nemo’s six-wheeled ride from the 2003 Sean Connery film “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” will be auctioned on July 11.

The ‘Nautilus’ car is anything but a mere prop. It is one of two working cars built specifically for the film, is fully functional and was designed by the movie’s production designer and art director Carol Spier.

Built on a Land Rover chassis the car has a V8 engine and a hydraulic system for raising and lowering the ride height.

The car is estimated to fetch between £18,000 and £25,000 ($28,000-$40,000) as part of the Coys Blenheim Palace auction on July 11.

However, be warned, the vehicle is 6.6m long and 2.8m wide and is currently not legal for use on UK roads.

boxed slice of wedding cake

Five royal family wedding cake slices up for auction

boxed slice of wedding cake

Slices from the cakes of five British royal weddings dating back up to 42 years have been put up for auction — accompanied by a health warning that they are “not suitable for consumption”.

The slices were collected by Queen Elizabeth II’s late chauffeur Leonard Massey, who kept them in the original packaging offered to wedding guests with monograms to celebrate the unions.

Most recent is a slice of brandy-infused fruit cake from the 2011 wedding of Prince William and his wife Kate, which has a guide price of $600-$800.

A slice from the 1981 cake from the wedding of William’s parents, Prince Charles and the late Diana, is expected to fetch the most with a guide price of $1,000-$2,000.

The oldest is from the 1973 wedding of Princess Anne, the queen’s second child and only daughter, to Mark Phillips.

Royal Wedding cake

The couple’s entire wedding cake was said to be five-feet six-inches tall (168 centimetres), the same height as the princess.

Also on sale are slices of cakes from the weddings of Prince Andrew and his now ex-wife Sarah Ferguson in 1986, and Prince Charles and his second wife Camilla in 2005.

The cakes will be sold at Julien’s Auctions on June 27 in Beverly Hills.

Robbie williams

Robbie Williams announces charity auction

Robbie williams

British singer Robbie Williams is offering 150 personal items for sale with all proceeds going to the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice.

The auction, appropriately called “Doing it for the Kids,” will take place on July 15 in Knightsbridge, London and lots up for grabs include a set of handwritten lyrics to “Let Me Entertain You” and an MTV Video Music Award from the singer’s Take That days.

Of the sale, Williams said: “It’s a privilege for me to be a patron of The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice, it makes a real difference to these children whose lives have been tragically limited. The sale gives a great opportunity for bidders to know their money will go to such a fantastic charity, whilst also taking home some of my most prized possessions that have been personal markers of my career so far.”

Viewing of the lots commences on Saturday, July 11 and the auction itself will be streamed live via the Bonhams website.

Pair of Japanese melons

This guy just paid $12,400 for a pair of Japanese melons

Pair of Japanese melons

A single pair of premium melons fetched an eye-watering 1.5 million yen ($12,400) at an auction in Japan on Friday.

The winning bid was placed by a local fruit wholesaler for the first Yubari melons to go under the hammer this year at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market in northern Hokkaido, officials said. (You can find more news about these melons here.)

The figure, enough to buy a brand new car in Japan is some way short of the record for the luxury fruit, which fetched 2.5 million yen in 2008.

High prices are the norm for the opening auction of the season and reflect buyers’ desire for prestige.

Yubari melons are considered a status symbol in Japan — like a fine wine — with many being bought as a gift for friends and colleagues.

The best-quality Yubari melons are perfect spheres with a smooth, evenly patterned rind. A T-shaped stalk is left on the fruit, which is usually sold in an ornate box.

While the prices they fetch at auction are very high, melons are not the only expensive fruit in Japan.

A single apple from a supermarket can cost more than $3 and a presentation pack of 20 cherries might sell for over $100.

'the Historic Pink

Princess Mathilde’s Pink Diamond Sells for $15.9 Million

'the Historic Pink

An “extremely rare” fancy vivid pink diamond weighing 8.72 carats sold for $15.9 million at the spring Magnificent Jewels and Nobel Jewels auction.

The stone, known as “The Historic Pink” and mounted on a ring with a classic non-modified cushion cut, is believed to have been part of the collection of Princess Mathilde, niece of French Emperor Napoleon I, according to the Gemological Institute of America.

Another of its former owners was the reclusive American heiress and philanthropist Huguette Clark, who died in 2007. It only recently reappeared after having been kept in the safe of a bank since the 1940s.

The origins of the stone remain unclear. The technical characteristics of the stone and the fact that it is so old suggest it may have been found in the famous Golconda mines of India, according to David Bennett, head of Sotheby’s international jewellery division.

The Sunrise Ruby

‘Pigeon blood’ ruby sells for record $30 million

The Sunrise Ruby

A rare 25.59-carat Burmese “pigeon blood” ruby sold for a world record $30.33 million at an auction in Geneva on Tuesday. There was strong demand for coloured stones and exceptional natural pearls, Sotheby’s said.

After competitive bidding, the ruby went to an anonymous telephone bidder for 26.25 million Swiss francs (27.3 million euros), with costs.

The “Sunrise Ruby” from Myanmar, part of a collection of Cartier jewels up for auction, had been expected to sell for between $12 and $18 million.

It set a record for a ruby and was also a record for a Cartier jewel at auction, Sotheby’s said.

Lightcycle Tron Legacy

Tron Lightcycle sold at auction for $77,000

Lightcycle Tron Legacy

The futuristic Lightcycle, star of the film “Tron: Legacy,” was sold through an auction by RM Sotheby’s at the Andrews Auto Collection for $77,000 over the weekend.

The bike is a replica of the one that Garrett Hedlund, the actor who played young Sam Flynn in 2010’s “Tron: Legacy,” was seen riding on screen.

This Lightcycle replica is powered by an electric engine and operates on lithium-ion batteries. It also boasts an internal computer that controls the throttle, and has hydraulic brakes.

Watch the bike in action during Tron Legacy below: