Tag Archives: Christie’s

Hong Kong optimistic ahead of auction season

Hong Kong auction houses are feeling upbeat about the upcoming sales season. From rare wines to Chinese paintings and expensive jewels, all the big names are gearing up for red letter days, with the mood buoyant despite China’s economic downturn.

The seasonal sales come after mega-buys by Hong Kong and Chinese bidders grabbed international headlines this month.

Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau spent a record US$48.4 million on a 12.03-carat diamond dubbed “Blue Moon” for his daughter in a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva.

That came a day after he had snapped up a rare 16.08-carat pink diamond at Christie’s for US$28.5 million, also in Geneva.

Also in November China’s Liu Yiqian, a taxi driver turned tycoon, bought Modigliani’s “Nu Couche” in New York for US$170.4 million. Further reports indicate that Liu may have been interested in the American Express points resulting from the purchase; he used AmEx to purchase the Modigliani.

“Frankly a few weeks ago I was not sure what to expect because of what happened during the summer and what happened in China with the slowdown…(but) the past two weeks were absolutely sensational,” Christie’s chairman of Asia Pacific François Curiel told AFP.

“At the moment I don’t think there is any slowdown in the appetite of Chinese collectors,” he said as the London-based auction house unveiled its Hong Kong autumn sales offerings for the first time Wednesday.

“They see works of art as a safe way of putting some money away.”

Among Christie’s highlights are ancient ceramics, works by prized Chinese painters as well as diamonds and rubies including “The Crimson Flame”, a rare 15-carat Burmese “pigeon blood” ruby.

Rival Sotheby’s, also holding a series of sales in the coming weeks, admitted top-class auctions may see fewer bidders, but the elite are still willing to spend their wealth.

“If you compare the market to where it was in 2010 and 2011 when there was a lot of hot money coming in from China… people were just throwing money around, we’re very far from that climate today,” Sotheby’s deputy chairman for Asia Nicolas Chow told AFP.

“(But) at the top level you still have very strong mainland buyers.”

“For as long as we compose a sale carefully, tidily, I’ve got a lot of confidence in the years ahead,” Chow added.

The auction house in October broke the record for Chinese imperial portraiture after selling the portrait of Chinese Emperor Qianlong’s consort by Italian artist Giuseppe Castiglione for over $17 million.

Newer auction houses on the Hong Kong scene will also be joining the fray.

Britain’s Bonhams opened an office in the city last year and will be holding watch, jewellery and Chinese art sales as well as a rare camera auction including a US spy camera disguised as a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Rare coin and money specialists Stack’s Bowers, based in the US but tapping into an expanding Asia market, will offer “space collectibles” at a sale in Hong Kong.

The auction will include coins and stamps taken on board Shenzhou 1, the first test flight of China’s manned space programme, launched in 1999.

Picasso painting titled "Les Femmes d'Algers.

Picasso sets $179 million auction record in New York

Picasso's $179 Million 'Les Femmes d'Algers'

A Picasso masterpiece and a Giacometti statue smashed world records Monday for the most expensive art sold at auction, fetching more than $179 million and $141 million respectively in New York.

Pablo Picasso oil painting, “The Women of Algiers (Version 0),” sold for $179,365,000 after 11 minutes of furious bidding from four to five prospective buyers at Christie’s, where two auction rooms were packed.

It was the highest price for any work of art sold at auction, Christie’s said, but fell short of the $300 million reportedly paid privately by Qatar for Paul Gauguin’s painting “When Will You Marry?” in February.

Other world auction records were set for works by artists Cady Noland, Jean Dubuffet, Diane Arbus, Chaim Soutine and Peter Doig, Christie’s said.

Giacometti bronze

The auction house listed the buyers as anonymous but said clients from Asia, the Gulf, Russia, Europe and the United States had competed for the top 10 lots of the sale.

Exponential growth in the art market, particularly for modern and contemporary works, is attributed to a growing number of private investors around the world and burgeoning interest in Asia and the Gulf.

The previous world record for an artwork sold at auction was $142.4 million, set for British painter Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” which was sold by Christie’s in New York in 2013.

Three Studies of Lucian Freud

Giacometti had also held the previous record for the most expensive sculpture sold at auction, formerly occupied by his “Walking Man I” that fetched $104.3 million in London in 2010.

Tibetan tapestry

Tibetan tapestry fetches record $45 million in Hong Kong

Tibetan tapestry

An ancient Tibetan silk tapestry has set a world record for Chinese art after it was sold for $45 million at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong.

The 600-year-old artwork, called a thangka and embroidered in vivid hues of red and gold, was bought by Liu Yiqian on Wednesday and will be displayed at his new museum in Shanghai, the auction house said.

The sale broke the world record for any Chinese work of art sold by an international auction house.

CHINESE COLLECTORS PUSH PRICES TO NEW LEVELS

The piece — which depicts the meditational diety Raktayamari, known as the Red Conqueror of Death, standing stride a buffalo — was created during the Ming dynasty between 1402 and 1424.

It is one of a set of three thangkas from the Jokhang Monastery in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, according to Christie’s.

In April, Liu bought a Ming Dynasty wine cup which broke the world auction record for Chinese porcelain in Hong Kong for $36.05 million.

Meiyintang Chenghua Chicken Cup

A taxi driver-turned-financier now aged 50, Liu is one of China’s wealthiest men and among the country’s new class of super-rich scouring the globe for artwork. He is worth an estimated $1.6 billion.

Christie's Shanghai

Christie’s opens new Shanghai office

Christie's Shanghai

 has consolidated its presence in China with a new Shanghai location, as the nation continues to embrace the high-end art industry.

“This building gives us the opportunity not only to bring art from around the world to Shanghai, but to bring the art of China to the rest of the world,” said Christie’s CEO Steven Murphy.

“China now plays a hugely important role in the global art market. Nearly one third of all buyers are from Asia and in the last year, 20% of all new clients to Christie’s globally came from Greater China.”

The move comes a year after the auction house brand first received a license to operate independently in mainland China, holding its first auction there in fall 2013.

SEE ALSO: CHINESE INTEREST RULES THE AUCTION WORLD

Chinese artist Qin Feng created an interactive piece called “Landscape of Desire” for the Christie’s Shanghai opening — a 15 x 30 meter work, executed in black acrylic painted on canvas, which visitors were invited to walk on to add their own imprint to the work.

The canvas will be divided into 108 scenes and each work will be ‘adopted’ or sold for charitable purposes.

Housed in the historic Bund-side 1907 Ampire building, the 10,000-square-foot Christie’s Shanghai is aiming to become a global art hub and converging point between the East and West.

The first three auction sales in the new space will take place October 24.

world largest blue diamond

World’s biggest blue diamond to be auctioned

world largest blue diamond

The world’s largest blue diamond will go under the hammer in Geneva next month, with the rare gem expected to fetch up to $25 million.

“The Blue”, a shimmering pear-shaped rock the colour of cobalt and weighing 13.22 carats was described by Christie’s as “the largest fancy vivid blue diamond in the world.”

The gem will be the centrepiece of the auction house’s “Magnificent Jewels” sale in Geneva on May 14, with an asking price of $21-25 million.

If recent auctions in Geneva are any indication though, it could fetch far more. When the world’s largest orange diamond, a 14.82-carat gem called “The Orange”, went under the hammer last November at Christie’s, it raked in $35.5 million compared to its $17-20 million price tag.

Orange Diamond

And a Sotheby’s auction the next day saw the world’s largest pink diamond, known as the Pink Star, fetch $83 million.

The auction house was, however, forced last month to take back the Pink Star after the buyer defaulted on the payment.

Pink Star diamond

Christie’s said its auction next month would comprise 250 pieces at a joint estimated value of $80 million. Among other notable gemstones will be a 5.5-carat vivid blue-green diamond named “The Ocean Dream”.

Competitor Sotheby’s will meanwhile hold its Magnificent Jewels sale next door on May 13, auctioning off one of the world’s largest yellow diamond.

Graff Vivid Yellow diamond

The Graff Vivid Yellow, the colour of a daffodil and weighing 100.09 carats, has been valued at up to $25 million.

pink gold Patek Philippe watch

Patek Philippe Sells for $2.1 Million in Record Auction

pink gold Patek Philippe watch

Christie’s raised a record $44 million for luxury watches in a 2-day sale, the auction house said today. The star earner of the collection was a pink gold Patek Philippe watch that fetched $2.1 million.

Another gold watch by the Swiss watchmaker, dating from 1947, sold for $1.57 million. The watches went under the hammer in 3 sessions over Sunday and Monday and were all sold to anonymous buyers.

The auction house sold 50 Rolex Daytona “Lesson One” watches in the first session for a total of $13.24 million, including one for just over $1 million, Christie’s said.

Orange Diamond

Orange Diamond Sells for $36 Million at Christie’s

A spectacular and rare orange diamond, the largest known gem of its kind, was on Tuesday auctioned for a record $35.54 million in Geneva.

Orange Diamond

“It’s a world record price for an orange diamond, it’s a world record price per carat for any coloured diamond,” the Christie’s auction house said.

The price works out at $2.4 million per carat, beating the previous record of $2.15 million for the Vivid Pink Diamond sold in Hong Kong in 2009.

The man who made the purchase swiftly got up and left the room to a round of applause. Christie’s did not reveal his identity.

The deep orange gemstone, found in South Africa, weighs a whopping 14.82 carats. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has handed it the top rating for coloured diamonds: “fancy vivid”.

Pure orange diamonds, also known as fire diamonds, are very uncommon and few have been auctioned, with the largest never more than six carats.

Christie’s comes to India

Saurashtra

International auctioneer Christie’s said Tuesday it will hold its first ever sale in India as it seeks to capitalise on the country’s expanding art scene.

The London-based house, which has had an office in financial hub Mumbai for two decades, will stage its inaugural sale in December.

“The decision to hold auctions at this time is a reflection of the strong momentum in the domestic art marketplace,” Christie’s said in a statement. The sale also reflects “the increased international appeal of Indian art and the growing participation of Indian collectors across international sale categories.”

Christie’s chief executive Steven Murphy said the auction would be of domestic artwork and that other sales would follow. The auctions “will allow Indian collectors domestic access to works of art sourced by Christie’s (and) international collectors access to the very best of Indian art”, he said.

The plan follows a recent announcement by the auctioneer that it would hold its first sale in Shanghai in September, becoming the first international auction house to conduct a sale in mainland China.

Flawless clarity diamond

Harry Winston buys $26.7mn diamond at auction

Flawless clarity diamond

Prestigious jeweller Harry Winston, which was acquired earlier this year by Swatch Group, bought a new colourless, flawless 101.73-carat diamond for a record $26.7 million at an auction in Geneva on Wednesday, auction house Christie’s said.

As the first ever buyer of the new diamond, Harry Winston had the priviledge of naming it and had decided to call it “Harry Legacy.”

This is the diamond dealer’s first major purchase since it was snapped up by the world’s leading watchmaker for $1.0 billion in March.

The American Institute of Gemology has handed the Harry Legacy the top colourless grade “D” and the best clarity grade, “flawless”, which is characterised by its “absolute symmetry”, according to Christies.

The diamond, sold at the auction by a diamond merchant, was 236 carats in the rough when it was extracted from the Jwaneng mine in Botswana, before it was meticulously sculpted for 21 months, Christie’s said.

Wednesday’s sale marked the highest price ever paid for a flawless colourless diamond at auction, although Christie’s had hoped the new diamond — the largest of its kind to ever go under the hammer — would rake in $30 million.

The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, which is in the same D-colour category but weighs in at only 33.19 carats, was meanwhile sold for $8.8 million on auction in New York in December 2011.

D color diamond

Hotel Ritz Paris

Masterpiece found at Ritz sold to New York’s Met

Charles Le Brun Painting Ritz Paris

A 400-year-old masterpiece that only came to light during a renovation at Paris’s Ritz hotel has been sold for 1.44 million euros ($1.88 million) to New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

The painting by 17th century artist Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) had adorned one of the suites in which fashion designer Coco Chanel lived for more than 30 years.

Its presence came as news to hotel management when it was discovered in July 2012, a month before the Ritz closed its doors for a two-year renovation.

“The Met does not yet have a work by Charles Le Brun (so) this completes its collection of 17th century paintings,” said Christie’s expert Olivier Lefeuvre.

The painting is expected to go on display in New York from the end of May.

Proceeds from the sale will go to the foundation established by Ritz owner Mohamed Al Fayed in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess Diana.

Princie Diamond Sells for $39 Million

Princie diamond

A 34.64-carat pink diamond has sold at auction in New York for nearly $40 million, setting a new record for Christie’s auction house.

Dubbed the “Princie Diamond,” the gem is “one of the largest and finest pink diamonds in the world,” with a “fabulous provenance,” Christie’s jewelry chief Francois Curiel said ahead of the sale.

An anonymous telephone bidder paid $39,323,750, or more than $1 million per carat, for the stone from ancient diamond mines in southern India, the auction house said in a statement Tuesday.

The pink gem was once owned by the royal family of Hyderabad and, since 1960, by the London branch of Van Cleef & Arpels.

The exclusive jewelry firm originally paid 46,000 pounds for it, equivalent to $1.3 million today, Christie’s said, indicating a hefty profit after Tuesday’s sale.

Previously, the most paid at Christie’s for a diamond was $24.3 million, for the 31-carat Wittelsbach diamond in 2008.

Christie’s to start auctions in mainland China

shanghai tower

Auction house Christie’s has annouced plans to hold auctions in China’s largest city, Shanghai, from fall 2013, after having recieved a license to operate independently on the mainland.

“This development makes Christie’s the first international auction house able to directly conduct auctions in China under its own brand,” said Christie’s CEO Steven Murphy. “The art market continues to grow at a tremendous rate due to the burgeoning interest in art particularly in Asia and China.”

Fellow auction house Sotheby’s had gained access to Chinese art lovers by partnering with Beijing GeHua Art Co in September 2012, while Bonhams maintains an office in Beijing and, like Sotheby’s and Christie’s, operates a saleroom in Hong Kong.

Giant Egg elephant bird

World’s largest egg up for sale in UK

Giant Egg

A rare and complete sub-fossilized Elephant bird egg that is more than 100 times the size of an ordinary chicken egg is up for auction in London.

Elephant birds became extinct sometime between the 13th and 17th centuries. Resembling a heavily-built ostrich, it would have stood up to 11 feet high. It is thought the bird was hunted to extinction.

The complete, sub-fossilized egg is 12 inches high and 8 ¾ inches wide. It is expected to fetch roughly £30,000 ($45,000) when it is sold April 24.

102 carat diamond D colour

Christie’s to auction ‘perfect’ new 102-carat diamond

102 carat diamond

Auction house Christie’s on Wednesday said it would put up for auction “one of the world’s most perfect diamonds” — a new colourless, pear-shaped gem weighing 101.73 carats.

In the rough, the diamond was 236 carats when it was extracted from the Jwaneng mine in Botswana, before it was meticulously sculpted for 21 months, Christie’s said.

The diamond “has literally been sculpted like a work of art,” Rahul Kadakia, who heads Christie’s jewellery division in Switzerland and the Americas, said in a statement, describing the gem as “one of the most beautiful ‘white’ diamonds Christie’s has ever had the honour of offering for sale.”

The May 15 auction in Geneva will mark the first time the rock goes on sale, and the buyer will have the privilege of naming it. Before going on sale, the diamond will go on tour to New York and Hong Kong.

The American Institute of Gemology has handed the gemstone the top colourless grade “D” and the best clarity grade, “flawless,” Christie’s said, also hailing the diamond’s “absolute symmetry”.

In this category, the reigning world champion is the Cullinan Diamond, a gem weighing 530.2 carats that is part of the British crown jewels.

Andy Warhol Campbell Soup

Christie’s to auction Andy Warhol works online

Campbell Chicken with Rice Soup

Christie’s auction house will put 125 works of art by the American pop icon Andy Warhol under the hammer in an online-only sale starting next week.

The auction, which will start Tuesday and run through March 25, will be the first time that Warhol’s art is sold strictly online, Christie’s said Thursday.

Sales “will feature works representing a wide array of media spanning the artist’s career,” the auction house said in a statement.

Estimates range from $600 to $70,000, Christie’s said, offering buyers “extraordinary global access to Warhol’s work. “The timed online format allows clients to browse, bid, receive instant updates by email or phone if another bid exceeds theirs, organize shipping, and pay from anywhere in the world.”

The online sale “will greatly expand access to Andy Warhol’s work, in a fundamentally democratic manner that is entirely consistent with his art,” said Joel Wachs, president of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

The proceeds will benefit the Foundation, which in turn offers financial support to artists and non-profit artist associations. The Foundation, created in accordance with Warhol’s will following his death in 1987, is dedicated to advancing the visual arts.

Charles Le Brun Painting Ritz Paris

Paris Ritz renovations uncover mystery masterpiece

Charles Le Brun Painting Ritz Paris

A renovation at Paris’s Ritz hotel has resulted in the discovery of a painting thought to be the work of 17th century artist Charles Le Brun that nobody knew was there.

Now, the giant tableau is to be sold by Christie’s auctioneers and could raise up to 500,000 euros ($665,000) for the foundation established by owner Mohamed Al Fayed in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess Diana.

The oil painting has been identified by experts as an early work by Le Brun (1619-1690), completed before he became the official painter at the court of Louis XIV and established his reputation as one of the dominant figures of 17th century French art.

It adorned one of the suites in which Coco Chanel lived for more than 30 years but when exactly it was installed in the hotel remains a mystery.

The man who first spotted the painting was Olivier Lefeuvre, a Christie’s France specialist in the period, who came across it in July, a month before the Ritz closed its doors for a two-year renovation.

The painting depicts the killing of Trojan princess Polyxena after she was implicated in the death of Achilles. In the absence of any historical records, Christie’s have named the painting as “The Sacrifice of Polyxena.”

According to Lefeuvre, Le Brun most likely painted the scene after a three-year stay in Rome where he studied the work of Raphael and became close to Poussin.

Jaegar LeCoultre A Rose for Emergency watch

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso: A Rose for Emergency

Jaeger-LeCoultre: A Rose for Emergency watch

On the occasion of the 69th Venice Film Festival, Jaeger-LeCoultre is pursuing its partnership with “Emergency”, by supporting a maternity hospital in Afghanistan.

Actress Cristiana Capotondi and other celebrities have lent their support to this highly worthwhile, holding a rose and wearing a Reverso watch engraved with a rose – the flower chosen to symbolise this initiative.
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