Tag Archives: auction

David Bowie Signed Sheet Music at Auction

The movie Velvet Goldmine, an affectionate homage to the glam rock movement directed by Todd Haynes, depicts a glam rock star faking his own death as a celebrity stunt, leading to a massive critical backlash by his fans that destroys his career. This year, David Bowie reversed that narrative, almost as if he planned it the way. He pushed out his best album in ages and made everyone think that not only was he coming back, but that he was primed to be even better than before. For those of us still hurt by his sudden departure, we have no choice but to try and grasp at the straws of the memory. Attaching ourselves to memorabilia is a symptom of this – so auction site eSolidar is offering up signed sheet music on sale, with the proceeds going to charity.

We wonder if this would be what the star wanted. Bowie was an anomaly in that he was an alien who took over the world – the man who fell to earth as it were. He was bizarre and aimed, in every instance, to try and subvert the mainstream, but ended up defining it. He sang about alienation and identity while dressed in flamboyant or androgynous outfits, laying the foundation for later stars like Lady Gaga and Madonna. Would a star so out of place be comfortable with being situated so firmly in the cultural memory? Well, given that the proceeds will go to humanitarian organization Oxfam, I guess he’ll let it slide.

All this forms as a part of The Music Circle’s annual celebrity jumble sale – Rumble in the Jumble, which will take place May 14 at east London’s iconic multi-purpose venue Oval Space. This sheet, in particularly, is for the track ‘Blue Jean’ from his 1984 album Tonight. Unfortunately, that album is considerably less notable than his earlier opuses, like Ziggy Stardust (1972), or the influentially experimental Berlin Trilogy (1976-1977). Still, we make do with what we have. The sheet music will also come framed with two photographs of the singer.

Those who want to participate can just follow the link here. At the very least, if the binge-listening to multiple runs of Blackstar doesn’t work in helping to cope, then this may be an alternative.

This story was written in-house, with an image from the AFP (© AFP Photo / Bertrand Guay).

J.K. Rowling Chair Sells for Close to $400,000

The chair J.K Rowling sat on as she churned out the Harry Potter series has sold at auction for $394,000, some 14 times the price it last fetched at auction in 2009. The modest 1930s-era oak chair, part of mismatched set of four was sold in New York, in an auction we reported on in the previous version of this story. Adorned all over the chair are words in pink, gold, and green paint. Pre-bidding for the chair over the net reached $65,000 earlier this week.

“This was the comfiest one, which is why it ended up stationed permanently in front of my typewriter, supporting me while I typed,” Rowling wrote in a letter accompanying the chair that Heritage Auctions, the house in charge of the sale, placed on their website. “My nostalgic side is quite sad to see it go, but my back isn’t,” she added.

The words written in paint includes her signature, and the words “You may not find me pretty but don’t judge what you see” on the back rest, and “I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair” on the wooden frame around the cushion. The front legs are also marked by lightning, invoking the famous lightning-scar of the boy wizard, painted on it.

Rowling donated the chair in 2002 to an auction benefitting the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children after adding the paint. The chair sold at auction again in 2009 for $29,117, Heritage Auctions said.

The Harry Potter series has been translated into 67 languages and sold more than 450 million copies, as well as become  a series of box office record-breaking films that made Rowling the first female novelist billionaire. Perhaps just a little bit of that writing magic may be left inside the chair for the next hopeful author who uses it. At the price it fetched though, we are quite sure the current owner (no names are forthcoming) is something other than a struggling writer…

Diamond, Scroll Set Auction Records in Asia

Despite the China market blues, a rare blue diamond and a painting by Chinese master Zhang Daqian broke auction records at Sotheby’s April 5. The De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 raked in HK$248.29 million ($31.8 million) at the Hong Kong auction, just hours after a scroll painting by Zhang Daqian sold for a record-breaking HK$270.68 million ($35.93 million).

The 10.10 carat vivid blue diamond broke the record for the most expensive piece of jewelry sold at auction in Asia, but at the lower end of estimates which predicted it would fetch between $30 and $35 million.

Slightly larger than an almond, it is described by Sotheby’s as the largest oval blue diamond ever to appear at auction and “internally flawless”. It was sold to an anonymous phone bidder.

“It was a very successful sale,” Sotheby’s international jewelry division worldwide chairman David Bennett said.

“The fact that it’s a record price for jewelry in Asia I think speaks well about the Asian market… I think it’s alive and well and very healthy,” Bennett said.

The sale came hours after a scroll painting by Chinese master Zhang Daqian sold for a record-breaking HK$270.68 million ($35.93 million), also at Sotheby’s.

It was snapped up by Chinese collector Liu Yiqian’s Shanghai museum — the latest in a string of massive buys associated with the former taxi driver turned tycoon.

Zhang’s splashed ink and color scroll outstripped the top-end pre-sale estimate of HK$65 million, breaking the record for the artist’s work at auction.

A buyer from Liu’s Long Museum ended hour-long bidding for the work, entitled “Peach Blossom Spring”, with more than 100 bids cast.

The sales comes despite a slowdown in the Chinese economy which expanded 6.9 percent in 2015, the worst performance in a quarter of a century and a far cry from years of double-digit increases.

There are fears that the combination of the Chinese economic slowdown and an anti-corruption drive by President Xi Jinping could hit the Asia market — both Sotheby’s and Christie’s posted lower totals at their autumn sales last year in Hong Kong compared with the two preceding years.

Liu, who has been making record-setting purchases at auctions in the past few years, stunned the art world when he bought a famed nude by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani costing more than $170 million in November.

He set a record for Chinese porcelain in 2014 by paying over $36 million for a tiny Ming Dynasty cup depicting a rooster and hen tending to their chicks, know as the “chicken cup”.

Liu made world headlines by drinking from the cup after he bought it.

Auctioneers say despite China’s economic downturn, there is still demand for top quality collectibles, and demand stretches across Asia.

The “Seal of the Mandate of Heaven” which belonged to the Kangxi Emperor, the longest reigning Chinese monarch, is to be auctioned on Wednesday at Sotheby’s as part of its spring sales season, with a starting at a price of HK$50 million.

Pope’s Fiat Auctions for $300,000

Nope, we’re not talking about a holy decree or something and yes we are making a rare visit to Fiat in this story. At more than 12 times its base price ($24,695), a black Fiat 500 Lounge used by Pope Francis while visiting New York was auctioned for $300,000 by the auction website Charitybuzz. No word if this is the most expensive Fiat ever sold at auction but it is possible.

The Fiat was bought by millionaire businessman Miles Nadal, and proceeds from the auction will go to Catholic schools and charities, as well as the Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

The Fiat was one of two such Popemobiles that ferried the pontiff around the Big Apple. “In a couple of occasions, (Pope Francis) was in the Popemobile. For the rest of his time, when he was not in the Popemobile, this is how he traveled around in the motorcade,” New York Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling told AFP. The second Fiat will also be used to raise money for charitable causes, though there are no set plans yet, he added.

The Charitybuzz auction began March 17, with the first bid coming in at $10,500. On Wednesday, it jumped to $195,000 before hitting $300,000 Thursday. While it’s not exactly sure how much of that translates into divine credit at the pearly gates, this shows, at least, how much value the Vatican adds here on Earth to a Fiat 500 Lounge.

Sotheby’s Asian Art Sales Kicks Off

A total of 170 lots will be up for auction at Sotheby’s across three sales featuring contemporary Asian art from some of the best-known artists from the region and beyond. “Brushwork: From Asia to the World” and “Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale” will take place April 3 while “The Contemporary Asian Art Day Sale” follows on April 4. The total estimated worth will be in excess of $23 million.

Ai Wei Wei Grapes

Ai Wei Wei Grapes

“Brushwork: From Asia to the World” is a specially curated auction with 20 abstract works – based on the idea of reinterpreting brushwork by post-war artists from the East and West and their mutual influences on each other. Tools used in the creation of some of these works include knives, gunpowder, as well as bare hands and feet. This auction will include work by Asian artists Kazuo Shiraga, Jiro Yoshihara, Cai Guo-Qiang, Park Seobo, as well as American and French artists Sam Francis and Pierre Soulages.

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Nets (OQABT)

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Nets (OQABT)

The “Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale” has some of the higher valued works in all. Ai Weiwei is one of the notables here, with his “Grapes” going up at an estimated $513,000 – $769,000. The work is made up of 35 wooden stools from the Qing dynasty stuck together with mortise and tenon joints, creating a spiky ball of furniture supposedly resembling a cluster of grapes – as a callback to Dadaist readymades.

Liu Wei's The Revolutionary Family Tripytch

Liu Wei’s The Revolutionary Family Tripytch

Also featured is “The Revolutionary Family Series (triptych)” by Liu Wei ($3.8 – $5.1 million), and Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity-Nets (OQABT)” ($1.5 – $1.9 million) – a part of his widely recognized Infinity Nets Series.

The “Contemporary Asian Art Day Sale” will have, among others, post-war paper works. This medium has been often overlooked but there will be contributions by artists such as Kusama, Lee Ufan, Yamaguchi Takeo and Kim Tschangyeul. These works offer insight into each artist’s distinct brushwork, composition, lines and colors.

The three auctions will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will hopefully shed more light on the Asian art scene as a whole. Watchful observers will be looking for any further signs of strains in the market, as we reported here. For more information on the upcoming auctions visit: http://www.sothebys.com/en/inside/locations-worldwide/hong-kong/overview.html

Slump in Chinese Art Sales Reported

A report end March revealed that the Chinese art market was in a slump, with auction sales of living artists’ works falling by 45%. Even so, China surpassed the US as home to the largest population of billionaires in the world last year, which indicates an increase in the pool of super-wealthy art collectors. The reasons for the reported slump may slowing growth (the world’s second-largest economy slowed to its weakest in a quarter of a century last year at 6.9 percent) and the widely reported corruption crackdown by President Xi Jinping.

“A heady mix of the continued anti-corruption campaign, which has put a stop to gifting art to government officers, and a slowdown in the economy have combined to see both sales and the number of top works at auction pretty much halve,” said Hurun Report chairman Rupert Hoogewerf.

The Hurun Report collates the auction results for the 100 most lucrative artists and slowdown in sales was first captured here. For this report, the sales for the 100 artists totaled $56.5 billion, with only three female artists on the list. The most valuable artist was ink painter Cui Ruzhuo, known for his large scale traditional landscapes. Cui’s works fetched $120.4 million, far ahead of second-placed oil painter Zeng Fanzhi, who saw his sales value crash by 62 percent. There were no figures on whether the average price of individual works had decreased. An odd entry included Jack Ma, CEO of Internet giant Alibaba, who was included solely for a collaborative painting he did with Zeng Fanzhi that sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for $5.3 million.

Some artists seem to be unfazed though, preferring to stick to the merits of their own work over material gain. Huang Jiannan ranked seventh on Hurun’s list and saw the auction value of his works drop by 45 percent last year, but he shrugged off the loss. “These statistics measure the flow of my works in the market – it has nothing to do with me. I don’t get the money from these sales directly,” he told AFP.

Critics such as Xie Chunyan believe that focusing on auction values is a poor judge of Chinese artists’ worth, noting that “Just because this little British guy Hoogewerf says he wants to find a common standard to measure things 1, 2, 3 doesn’t mean that this is the best method”.

Though many believe China’s art market has been overheated in recent years, Cui seemed positive and had a message of proactivity to other artists. “Our current downturn and backwardness shouldn’t discourage us; we artists should unite together and for the sake of our art market and our nation walk out towards the world, hand in hand, striving ardently together,” he said. All this seems to indicate one thing, no matter what happens to the market, and no matter whether for sales, aesthetics, or national sentiment, artists will still make art.

Francis Bacon Self-Portrait Auction in May

The famous painter of tortured expressive psychological landscapes, Francis Bacon, will have a self-portrait of his go on sale on May 11 at Sotheby’s New York. This is the first time “Two Studies for a Self-Portrait” (1970) has been at auction ever; since it was completed, it remained in the same private collection. The painting is worth an estimated $22-30 million.

Bacon was born in 1909 and had a bad relationship with his family (and especially his father) due to, among other things, his homosexuality. The artist lived in poverty for a period of time, and over the years developed his now-famous style. Knitting together his own inner torment and experiences with his technical skill, Bacon’s art depicts a monstrous and haunted reality, returning to many key traits that he was obsessed with, such as screams and religious motifs like the crucifixion.

In a characteristic Baconian way, the portrait eschews normal artistic representation and ‘disfigures’ its subject, Bacon’s own face, to point to an underlying psychological state. Bacon has done such permutations before with older forms, such as a portrait of the Pope done by 17th Century Spanish Artist Diego Velázquez. In his take, Bacon turned the religious figure into a grotesque screaming nightmare with purple and dark streaks running downwards. In this self-portrait, various smudges of colors run across the artist’s face until some of the discernable features are obscured. Yet all this leads up to an overall ‘lighter’ feel (at least relative to his other works) because the colors involved here are vibrant reds, pinks, blues, and whites rather than his characteristic black horrific tones. The result is less distraught and poignantly calmer; it is worth noting that this self-portrait dates from before the suicide of George Dyer.

“‘Two Studies for a Self-Portrait’ goes straight in at number one of all the paintings I’ve handled in my career. Discovering a work such as this is like finding gold dust. To my mind, the painting is worthy of a place alongside the very finest self-portraits of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Picasso. It’s certainly among the greatest self-portraits ever offered at auction,” said Oliver Barker, Senior International Specialist in Contemporary Art. Indeed, the rare work has only been exhibited to the public two times. The first time was in 1971 in Paris, and later, 1993 in London. It was also chosen as the cover of Milan Kundera and France Borel’s book “Francis Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits”.

Tate Liverpool and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles will both be hosting Francis Bacon exhibitions in 2016. “Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné” edited by Martin Harrison will also be released this year. It is expected to feature around 100 works by Bacon that have never been seen before.

Beatles Breakthrough Demo Sold to UK Collector

A bona fide piece of pop culture history – the demo vinyl record that persuaded late music producer George Martin to sign up The Beatles – was sold Tuesday to an unnamed British collector.

The record sold for £77,500 (98,000 euros, $110,000), a spokeswoman for the Omega Auctions, based in Warrington in northern England, told AFP. No word yet on whether this amount is in itself any kind of record.

Having noted that, the price tag was well above the £10,000 initial estimate, showing the object’s “historical importance”, the spokeswoman said, adding that bids had come in also from China and the United States.

The ten-inch 78 RPM acetate record featuring the single ‘Hello Little Girl’ on one side and ‘Till There Was You’ on the other was pressed at the historic HMV record store on Oxford Street in London.

It was pressed by the group’s manager Brian Epstein to present to Martin at record label EMI – a meeting that led to a breakthrough for the Beatles.

Ian Shirley, from the Rare Records Price Guide, said earlier the record was a “Holy Grail” for collectors.

The record was previously owned by Les Maguire from the band Gerry and the Pacemakers. Maguire said he was given it by Epstein, who also managed his band, in 1963 and had kept it in his loft until now.

Aste Bolaffi Runs Jewelry Sale in Milan

A 5.3-carat emerald-cut diamond on a platinum ring boasting a starting price of €130,000 (approx $145,000) was one of the many vaunted jewels to go on offer in Milan March 15 2016. The auction house Aste Bolaffi held its first auction dedicated to high-end jewelry and watches at the Grand Hotel et de Milan with over 400 lots.

While the diamond ring was seen as the star of the show, other standout pieces include a 7.25-carat loose round diamond (starting price: €40,000 or approx. $45,000), a 6.50-carat Colombian emerald on a platinum and diamond ring from the 1960s (starting price: €30,000 or approx. $33,000), a Cartier gold and diamond brooch from the 1940s (price: €10,000 or approx. $11,000) and a Patek Philippe pocket watch from the early 20th century with its original box and guarantee (starting price: €2,000 or approx. $2,225). A collection once owned by businesswoman Pina Maule Fin also featured in the auction with the proceeds going to a Turin charity.

The results of the sales have yet to be released.

Image courtesy of Aste Bolaffi

Blue Diamond to Earn $35 million at Auction

Coming five months after the sale of the 12.03 carat Blue Moon of Josephine (bought by businessman Joseph Lau for his daughter at a record $48 million), the 10.10 carat De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 is set to go on sale at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. This oval vivid blue diamond was rated with a clarity of “internally flawless” or IF as it is known in the trade and is expected to fetch between $30 million and $35 million.

“There are no more than a dozen or so blue diamonds of fancy vivid color and over 10 carats in the world, so they are very, very rare,” Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman for Asia Quek Chin Yeow told AFP.

The blue diamond was mined from the Cullinan Mine in South Africa – one that is famous for being a significant source of blue diamonds in the world. Blue diamonds are especially rare and have a high price due to a diminishing supply mixed with an increasing demand.

One of the most famous Blue Diamonds is the Hope Diamond, currently located in the Smithsonian Museum. The Hope Diamond was suspected of being cursed due to the deaths of many owners over the years.

Despite the slowdown of the Chinese economy (having a weak 6.9% expansion in 2015), the jewelry auction market remains strong. The previous record for a diamond sold in Hong Kong was set in 2013, with the sale of a 118-carat white diamond for $30.6 million.

“It’s the rarity and collectability of these wonderful objects. When they come to the market, they will have strong interest from all over the world,” Quek said as an explanation, adding that the location of the upcoming sale was a sign of confidence in the Asian market.

Last Mitford Sister Belongings Sold for £1 million

In a family with two Nazi sympathizers, a novelist, and a Communist-bent civil rights activist, being a Duchess may be considered a remarkably average profession. Deborah, the last of the Mitford sisters, and also the Duchess of Devonshire, died in September 2014. Hundreds of personal items from her estate were auctioned at Sotheby’s in London last Wednesday for a total of around £1.8 million, bringing to light the tastes and life of the British aristocrat.

Deborah, known to her friends as “Debo”, married Andrew Cavendish, the later Duke of Devonshire, which led to her acquiring her royal title. She masterminded the transformation of Chatsworth House, the family’s 18th-century mansion, into a profitable tourist attraction that now hosts more than a million visitors a year. She was also famously devoted to her chickens and regularly hosted parties where live hens would strut about the dinner table. She was once photographed feeding her chickens while wearing a Balmain ball gown and pearls.

Among Deborah’s friends included President Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Lucian Freud, Evelyn Waugh, Alan Bennett, members of the Royal Family, Hubert de Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta and Cecil Beaton. In fact, an exhibition of Beaton’s photographs of Deborah and her glittering social circle will also be shown at Chatsworth from 19 March 2016 to 3 January 2017.

Among some of the highlights from the sale include:


A true first edition of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited with a personal inscription by the author. Sold for £52,500.

Lot 47 - The Duchess’s collection of Elvis Presley ephemera, est. £500-1,000 (Small)

The Duchess’s collection of Elvis Presley epherema, including a novelty Elvis telephone that dances and sings when it rings. Sold for £4,375

Lot 270, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Bolton Abbey

A pair of paintings by the famous landscape painter John Atkinson Grimshaw. Bolton Abbey by Moonlight and A Wooded Landscape were among the Duchess’s favorite paintings. Sold for £52,500

Lot 244, A set of twelve wine glasses

A set of 12 wine glasses acquired from the Buckingham Palace gift-shop with a gold snake entwining every stem. Sold for: £4,375

A diamond and ruby brooch in the form of a butterfly. A present from Andrew. Sold for: £62,500

Lot 467, Diamond Brooch

A diamond brooch designed by Andrew for their Diamond wedding anniversary in 2001, formed in the shape of a heart pierced by an arrow. Sold for: £40,000.

Lot 11, A Japanese Guardian figure

A Japanese gilt-decorated Guardian figure from the Meiji period. It was acquired by the Duchess’s grandfather Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford, probably presented by Emperor Meiji of Japan. Sold for £62,500.

Deborah’s archive of personal correspondence – letters, books, manuscripts and documents relating to the Mitford sisters – has been left to Chatsworth House Trust, together with her collection of couture clothing, and is planned to be accessible by the public in due course.

Henry Wyndham, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and Auctioneer for much of the sale, noted that the Duchess “represented the last of a special era” and that she “would have been quietly amused by the whole event, but most of all would have been pleased to see her belongings find brand new homes where they’ll be treasured”.

The Mitford sisters remain prominent figures in the history books for charming and shocking the world with their gracious wit and scandalous affairs.

Breguet Brings Home No. 2023 Chronograph

Breguet has welcomed another antique timepiece to its own collection. Acquired at the Rétromobile Exhibition auction held on February 6, the Breguet No. 2023 has now found a home at The Breguet Museum. The timepiece happens to be one of the nine car timepieces that the watchmaker had originally sold for Bugatti in 1932.

With a chrome-plated metal case, the 8-day power-reserve chronograph was designed specially for Bugatti, which explains why Breguet chose to use tachymeter scale for its complication. Measuring in at 67mm, the words “Special pour Bugatti” sits proudly on the dial, above the six o’clock window. The timepiece also features the famous blue steel Breguet hands that were designed nearly three centuries ago while an elapsed minutes counter sits in place of the digit six.Breguet-Bugatti-Chronograph-article

The timepiece was meant to sit in the middle of the steering wheel and has an unusual crown that can be found, again at six o’clock. Powered by a mechanical movement (quartz didn’t happen till later in the 20th), the creation is one that adds showcases the diverse range of creations that the Manufacture produced in the inter war years. Sold in its original box, the timepiece helps to enrich the Manufacture’s history and cultural heritage, a desire that Marc A Hayek, President and CEO of Breguet aims to fulfil. No price was announced by the Swatch Group-owned firm for this acquisition.

Lennon’s Hair Sold at $35,000

One Direction at its peak had nothing on the culture-wave that the Beatles precipitated way back in the 1960s. We only bring this up because we can’t imagine a lock of Harry Styles’ hair selling for $35,000 as John Lennon’s recently did. The Dallas-based Heritage Auctions sold a nearly 50-year old lock of Lennon’s hair Saturday for the aforementioned princely sum. Other Beatles items sold included a signed Lennon photograph for $2,125, a signed photograph of the whole band for $42,500, and a rare sealed copy of the band’s limited US album Yesterday and Today for $125,000. Indeed, it seems only yesterday that we posted a story on Lennon memorabilia at auction

Who doesn’t know about Lennon nowadays? The star’s songs, quirks, and history have become cultural staples and essential legends: from his exotic relationship with Yoko Ono (dropping down one very Not-Safe-For-Work nude album cover) to his infamous assassination by Salinger-nut Mark David Chapman. His vocal range abounds from the soft crooning of “Imagine” to the primal yells at the end of “Cold Turkey”. The man is unforgettable and his music, as well as those weird factoids, will continue to spread from generation to generation as long as people have ears to hear.

The lock of hair in question was snipped in 1966 before he began filming How I Won the War, a dark comedy filmed by Richard Lester about a fictional British army troop in World War 2. The film was where Lennon first public donned the signature round glasses that he wore for the rest of his life. Richard Lester had also directed the prime Beatlemania movie A Hard Day’s Night back in 1964.

The German hairdresser cutting Lennon’s hair, Klaus Baruck, kept the 4-inch lock afterwards. Heritage director of music memorabilia, Garry Shrum reported that it was “the largest lock of John Lennon’s hair ever offered at auction”.

Why has Beatlemania stuck around for so long, even to this very day? The late David Bowie, a friend of Lennon, may have the answer in a single he recorded together with the musician. Aptly named “Fame”, at the end of the song, Lennon’s voice repeats itself under a series of recursive hypnotic reverbs “Fame, fame, fame, fame, fame…”

Record Sale of Rodin Cast Confirmed

Proving that great artists will endure, a cast based on Auguste Rodin’s iconic sculpture set a new record auction sale for a model made after the sculptor’s death. The auction house Binoche et Giquello reported that a bronze cast of Rodin’s The Kiss was sold for 2.2 million euros ($2.4 million) February 16 to an American collector. This represents a great victory not just for the sculptor but for the ridiculously grueling Art of Sculpting itself.

Rodin was a sculptor active in the late half of the 19th century. He gained prominence for his ability to sculpt dynamism of the human body. The sculptor even purposely made some sculptures ‘incomplete’ so that people could focus on the purity of the basic pose. An example is The Walking Man: a sculpture missing its head and arms.

The Kiss is Rodin’s most famous sculpture, having been cast 27 times after he first created it in 1885. Originally titled Francesca da Rimini, it depicts the loving embrace of two lovers as described in Dante Alighieri’s famous poem on Hell, The Inferno. In the poem, Francesca is a 13th century noblewoman who is condemned to eternal punishment in the Circle of Lust for committing adultery with her husband’s brother, Paolo. In far quainter times, the sculpture was controversial for its display of eroticism but its enduring appeal has proved that the work’s power comes from beyond mere shock value.

The famous Austrian poet, Ranier Maria Rilke, worked for Rodin as a secretary. In an essay on the sculptor, he aptly described the primal power encased within the work:

“Waves flow through the bodies, a shuddering ripple, a thrill of strength, and a presaging of beauty… It is like a sun that rises and floods all with its light.”

The same collector, who bid by phone, also bought a cast of Eternal Spring, another Rodin statue depicting a great show of love. He paid almost 700,000 euros ($780,000) for it. Both casts were made by Eugene Rudier, son of Rodin’s own favorite caster Alexis Rudier.

The original white marble version of The Kiss remains in the Musee Rodin in Paris, where it continues to gain admirers long after the sculptor’s death. Of course, the original is priceless.

Christie’s Hawks Rare Handbags in France

Christie’s third annual “Handbag & Accessories” auction in Paris is coming up March 5 with an enthralling lineup for arm-candy connoisseurs seeking rare or special edition gains. Pieces from Hermès, Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton are expected to fetch prices ranging from €2,000 to €70,000.

The “Vert Celadon Natura Kelly 28” by Hermès is one such key highlight. Being offered at a rather conservative estimate of €15,000-20,000 (approximately $17,000-22,000), the style is a nod to old processes where the original skin-color was left on handbags made from exotic skins, because the pigment couldn’t be removed in those times. Hermès sought to bring back the process, this time for the animalistic flavor rather than necessity, around the year 2000. In any case, this is one of the main pieces to watch for when the hammer goes up at Christie’s.

Another eye-catching piece is the “Himalaya Birkin 35”. Once vaunted as one of the most expensive handbags for sale, the dyeing process for the design, invoking the grandeur of the Himalayan Mountains, was said to take long and tedious hours to complete. It’s being offered at €70,000 – €90,000 in the auction. Another variant of the “Birkin 35”, from the So Black collection, is estimated as between €40,000 and €45,000. This version has a shiny black plating as opposed to the usual gold or palladium sheens.

Other important Hermès examples includes a Kelly Picnic 35, made in barénia leather and wicker, and a custom-ordered Kelly 32 in Bleu Saphir, Bleu Marine and Bleu Jean alligator.

To celebrate its 10th Anniversary in another city (Dubai), another Christie’s auction March 17 will feature handbags, trunks, watches and jewelry. Star pieces of that show includes a “Grand Marriage Kelly 32” in ostrich, alligator and lizard, as well as a custom-ordered “Birkin 30” in anémone, rose confetti and bleu aztèque.

Christie’s: Post-War and Contemporary auctions

Before the weekend begins, British auction house Christie’s will be selling the works of more than 250 artists. The two-day auction in London will see an international selection of Post-War and Contemporary works including, most notably, those of Francis Bacon, Yves Klein and Lucian Freud.

Beginning on the evening of February 11, the first auction will shine a spotlight on major achievements of British art over the past 50 years. The auction will feature two of Freud’s most personal portraits of his daughters. “Head of Esther” (1982-3) and “Head of lb” (1983-4) have been included in all of Freud’s major retrospectives, including at the National Portrait Gallery in London and Tate Britain London. Both feature warm hues and are done with subtle strokes of impasto. “Head of Esther” is estimated to be worth between £2.5 and £3.5 million ($3,640,000 – $5,096,000), as is “Head of lb”.

Lucian Freud's "Head of Esther"

Lucian Freud’s “Head of Esther”

Francis Bacon’s “Two Figures” (1975) will also be a centerpiece in the evening auction. This is a self-portrait of Bacon, conjoined with the figure of Bacon’s muse and lover, George Dyer. Bacon made the painting in Paris shortly after Dyer’s suicide in 1971. Michael Peppiatt, Bacon’s biographer and curator, will be selling the painting. A close personal friend of the artist, Peppiatt acquired the work directly from Bacon. “Two Figures” is estimated to be worth £5 to £7 million ($7,280,000 – $10,192,000).

Francis Bacon's "Two Figures"

Francis Bacon’s “Two Figures”

The day auction on February 12 celebrates the art of portraiture. Yves Klein’s work will be one of the highlights. His “Untitled Anthropometry (ANT118)” (main picture; circa 1960) presents a blue corporeal form suspended within a pale void. The painting is a large scale example of Klein’s “Anthropométries” series. The artist’s signature International Klein Blue (IKB) pigment traces the human form in these works. “Anthropometry (ANT118)” belongs to a subset of “Anthropométries” in which the human form appears caught in a transcendental act of levitation. The painting is expected to fetch between £8 and £14 million ($11,648,000 – $20,384,000).

For more information on the Post-War and Contemporary evening and day auctions, visit Christie’s official website.

Ferrari 335 Scaglietti Sells for $35 million

Ferrari stock may be experiencing volatility but the Prancing Horse continues to rise above expectations at auction, with the latest being a 1957 335 S Spider Scaglietti which sold for $35 million. The price is a world record for a racing car sold at auction.

Press reports state that applause literally broke out after the hammer came down on the bidding for the 1957 Scag at the Artcurial auction house just off the Champs-Elysees, Paris, last Friday, February 5.

The world was watching the sale with great interest, especially since Bonhams was also offering significant Ferrari models (amongst others) last week. That sale was nothing to write home about, as far as Ferrari models are concerned, with the 1966 275 GTB Berlinetta selling for roughly $2.29 million. Nevertheless, expectations for a cooling-off in Ferrari auction prices has not yet been met. The race car sold by Artcurial fetched 28 million euros, plus premiums and taxes taking the overall price to just above 32 million euros ($35 million).

For those keeping track, note that this result also beats last year’s top selling Ferrari at auction, the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM Spider, which sold for about $28 million.

The Spider Scag actually beat the record set in 2014 when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for what was the equivalent of 28.9 million euros. The new most-expensive-ever Scag has a peerless pedigree, having finished sixth in the Sebring 12 Hours race in 1957, driven by British racer Peter Collins and his French partner Maurice Trintignant, and second in the Mille Miglia 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometre) road race in Italy, with Wolfgang von Trips driving. Yes this is the actual Scag that accomplished all that, not merely a similar model. Well, the same car but with some tweaks…

After the Mille Miglia, the car was returned to the factory to have its engine size boosted from 3.6 to 4.1-liters, boosting available horses from 360 to 400, allowing a top speed of 300 kilometres an hour (186 mph). This was in 1957 mind you.

The Scag enabled Enzo Ferrari’s outfit to win the Constructors’ World Championship title in 1957.

The identity of the purchaser of the Spider was not revealed following Friday’s deal but is US-based, according to Matthieu Lamoure, director general of Artcurial motorcars.

“Clearly, we won’t soon forget,” Lamoure told journalists after the hammer came down on the record sale, bidding having started at 20 million euros.

The sleek machine had belonged to the family collection of late French racing driver Pierre Bardinon, who died in 2012.

Legendary British driver Mike Hawthorn drove the Spider in the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1957 and Sir Stirling Moss won the 1958 Cuba Grand Prix with it.

Shelby American Celebrates 50 Years of GT40

Honoring the Ford GT40’s 1966 Le Mans success, Shelby American will be building a limited run of 20 continuation models. The original car is a legend in its own right, the direct result of Henry Ford II’s desire to beat Ferrari at an endurance race. Responsible for bringing Ford to the world stage in performance and for teaching Enzo Ferrari the desired lesson at Le Mans, it is the only American car to have made the top 10 most expensive cars.

Shelby’s continuation GT40 will be based on the Mark II model and will honor the car’s dominance at Le Mans in 1966 where Ford achieved an unprecedented first, second and third-place finish. Interestingly, Bonhams is offering a rather significant 1966 model car that fits right into this narrative

“Carroll Shelby’s involvement in Ford’s Le Mans program is one of the best-known chapters in our racing history,” said Joe Conway, Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Shelby American. “Carroll Shelby shared Henry Ford II’s desire to defeat the house of Enzo on the international stage to earn American automakers worldwide respect. The successful partnership between Shelby and Ford continues and can be seen in every vehicle we build today.” Well, that is a slightly more romantic version of the Ford-Ferrari battle, which was largely about two men putting their businesses in service of their egos.

Whatever version you prefer of history, the actual anniversary car aims to be as true to the original as possible. Shelby claims that more than two thirds of the components it will use are interchangeable with those on the 1966 original. Returning to those interchangeable parts, that means that while aluminum and composite are lighter and often stronger, the car will get a steel monocoque chassis and fully independent suspension. It will also have the same twin 10-gallon fuel tank set-up. And seeing as those tanks will be supplying a Ford FE 427 V8, owners hitting the open road had better select a route with plenty of gas stations. Yes, the GT40 is notoriously thirsty.

Inside, the cabin is also true to the original with Smith-style gauges, riveted racing seats with harnesses and very little in the way of headroom for taller drivers, unless it’s specified with the Gurney Bubble (a bubble put into the roof of the car so that larger drivers could fit as the original GT40 was called that because it was 40 inches tall). The only new addition is air conditioning plus the choice of right- or left-hand drive.

“The Shelby GT40 MK II 50th anniversary edition is just the kind of car that Shelby collectors and ‘60s-era race fans appreciate about our legacy and want in their collection,” said Keith Belair, Shelby American Chief Operating Officer.

The car will cost $169,995 as a rolling chassis before personalization and options.

Ferrari Berlinetta Drives to Top Lot at Bonhams

British auction house Bonhams is gearing up for the sale of classic cars and motorbikes at the Grand Palais museum this Thursday, February 4. In its sixth year, the auction is expected to fetch millions of dollars where German and Italian models may garner the highest bids. Listed with the highest valuation as the top lot is the 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Berlinetta. Those looking to own a model that was developed closely by Enzo Ferrari himself can expect to begin their bid at $2.7 million.


1990 Ferrari F40 Berlinetta

Joining the Ferrari, is the Mercedes- Benz CLK GTR Coupé from 2000 ($2 million), a 1990 Ferrari F40 Berlinetta ($1 million), a 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider with a hardtop ($980,000), a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT ($870,000), and a 1937 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Berlinette ($810,000).


1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ2 Coda Tronca Coupé

Next in line comes a 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ2 Coda Tronca Coupé ($650,000 to €870,000), then a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series IV Coupé ($487,000 to $700,000), a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ Berlinette Coda Ronda ($490,000 to $700,000) and a 2002 Ferrari 550 Barchetta Pininfarina ($490,000 to $600,000).

Among other curiosities, auction-goers will have the chance to bid for a 1967 Citroën DS21 Cabriolet Le Caddy ($270,000 to $380,000) and a 1971 Mercedes 280 SE 3.5l Coupé once owned by Lino Ventura ($98,000 to $130,000).

A total of 250 lots will be up for auction, with 133 cars and 54 motorbikes, including 18 rare Italian motorbikes from the Stockholm Motorbike Museum in Sweden. All of the vehicles for sale will be on show at the Grand Palais exhibition center in Paris on Wednesday, February 3, from 9 am to 5:30 pm and on Thursday, February 4, from 9 am.

The Bonhams auction is being held at the Grand Palais, Paris, on Thursday, February 4, 2016. Visit the Bonhams official website for more information.

Jack Daniel’s Motorbike Heading for Auction

The alcohol brand and automotive firm partnership is a tricky one in which things can go badly awry; in the case of this venture, the beneficiaries are US military veterans and their families so we will call this a positive development. American whiskey house Jack Daniel’s and cult motorcycle name Indian Motorcycle have come together to create a special bike to be auctioned later this year, with proceeds going to Operation Ride Home. This charity helps young people enlisted in the US armed forces spend time with their families during the holiday season.

The unique Jack Daniel’s-branded Indian Chief Vintage features a unique paint finish, bespoke saddle and saddlebags, inscribed fenders as well as visual nods and emblems referencing both companies and their philosophies.

“This one-of-a-kind motorcycle is the perfect pairing of these two classic American brands, and while they look great together, we’ve inscribed this unique collector’s edition masterpiece with our ‘Bottles and Throttles Don’t Mix’ mantra to remind all our friends that drinking and riding are meant to be enjoyed separately,” said Dave Stang, Director of Events & Sponsorships for Jack Daniel’s.

Although there is a clear rock ‘n’ roll connection between the two companies, the idea behind the collaboration was to mark the Tennessee distillery’s 150th anniversary and to celebrate the history of US manufacturing and the continuing capabilities of the country’s engineering artisans.

“It’s a pleasure to partner again with our friends at Jack Daniel’s on this project as a tribute to originality and American craftsmanship, and to do so for the benefit of our military personnel and their families,” said Steve Menneto, President of Motorcycles for Polaris Industries, Indian’s parent company.

Like a rare whiskey, this particular bike is destined to sit in a collector’s special store while it grows better and more valuable with age.

It will be auctioned on October 6-8 in Las Vegas and all monies donated to the charity organization Operation Ride Home.

However, this one-off will also be followed a limited run of joint branded production bikes that will also boast many of the details of the auction bike.

As for retail prices and exactly what the limited-run bikes will feature in terms of accessories or special touches, Indian will be revealing more details on March 4.