Tag Archives: Sotheby’s

Legendary Blue Diamond of Royal Descend sells for 6.7 million

The pear-shaped, dark grey-blue gem, known as The Farnese Blue, was sold after a mere four minutes of bidding at the Sotheby’s auction.

Found at India’s Golconda mines, the Farnese diamond was a gift to the daughter of the Duke of Parma in 1715 to mark her marriage to King Philip V of Spain.

One of the most significant historical gems still in private hands, the Geneva auction marks the first time the Farnese Blue diamond was put up for sale.

The auction performed exceptionally well, with the final bid way of the Farnese Blue surpassing the auction house’s initial estimate of $3.5m-$5m.

“We were expecting a good result but we started from $3.5m and we ended up with $6.7m, so we exceeded our expectation,” said Sotheby’s jewellery specialist, Daniela Mascetti.
“Good jewels, well-designed, well-made, with a signature, with a perfect slot in time, in age, do very well.”

Philip V and Elisabeth in 1739.

Despite the royal history of this gem, its whereabouts and existence was kept hushed to an exclusive circle. The Farnese Blue was originally a gift to Queen of Spain Elisabeth Farnese by the Philippines to celebrate her marriage to King Philip in 1714, the blue diamond was subsequently passed down to a descendant of France’s last queen, Marie Antoinette.

Over the next 300 centuries, the Farnese Blue was furtively passed down through four European royal families. All this while, the 6.16-carat blue diamond was hidden in a jewellery box in a casket as it traveled through Spain, France, Italy, and Austria.

Found from India’s Golconda mines, this gem holds an incredible pedigree. In fact, this region was the go-to source for exceptional colored diamonds, such as the Hope Diamond, until the 1720s when mining shifted to Brazil.

The first time The Farnese Blue, passed down through European royalty, went on sale.

“With its incredible pedigree, the Farnese Blue ranks among the most important historic diamonds in the world,” said Dr. Philipp Herzog von Württemberg, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and managing director of Germany, in a statement from the auction house. “From the first minute I saw the stone, I could not resist its magic, and as such, it is a huge privilege to have been entrusted with this sale.”

Among the other magnificent gems in the list of the Sotheby’s auction includes a 51.71 carats round diamond ring that went for $9.2 million, and a 50.39-carat oval diamond ring that was sold for $8.1 million.

The identity of the Farnese Blue buyer is unrevealed by Sotheby’s.

“Junior” Ferrari Dino 246 GTS Going for Auction

Going on the auction block is 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, a vintage classic – named after Enzo Ferrari’s late son Alfredino Ferrari – ready to be shown a new owner, which would only be the third in over 40 years.

Sporting curvy, racing (can we say “racy”?) lines, a competition-ready chassis, and a V-6 engine designed by Enzo Ferrari himself; it is no doubt the Ferrari Dino 246 GTS – named for Enzo Ferrari’s late son Alfredino Ferrari – was a crowd stunner at the 1965 Paris salon. This Italian supercar has come a long way before gaining its current status as an important car in the Ferrari history. Thus, when a Prancing Pony of such historic provenance is put up for auction, the classic car connoisseurs at LUXUO take notice.

“Junior” Ferrari Dino 246 GTS Going for Auction

Despite (or in spite of) its good looks, the 206 S Speciale was long seen by Ferrari purists as less of a classic Ferrari because the original model of the Ferrari Dino did not bear Ferrari’s iconic Prancing Pony, in its place is a “Dino” plate, made by Enzo Ferrari to honour his son. However, over time, the “Junior” Ferrari Dino 246 GTS has earned the respect of enthusiasts as a timeless and highly collectible model.

The Dino 246 GTS up for auction was the first vehicle made at the Maranello factory to enter production with a mid-engine and rear-drive design. It is then finished in Rosso Chiaro (brilliant orange/red) over beige leather with Daytona seats. This Ferrari Dino 246 GTS has only seen two owners since its production in 1974 and has tallied up a mere 8,300 miles over the 44 years, which makes this certainly one of the lowest-mileage Dinos in existence.

Completely unrestored and original throughout, the “Junior” Ferrari Dino represents history and rarity, certainly one of the best cars to begin classic Ferrari ownership.

Head over to Sotheby’s for your chance to bid on the car.

A Masterwork by Emperor Qianlong’s Favourite Painter to Auction Off

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

A Rediscovered Imperial Heirloom

Kept in the Forbidden City for generations until it reached the last emperor, now this highly important handscroll, said to be the greatest masterpiece created by the renowned Imperial Court painter Qian Weicheng, has gained prominence once more after a hundred years.

According to history, Qian Weicheng was the highest-ranking candidate in the official examinations, and also a favourite painter of the Qianlong Emperor, who was always selected to accompany him on the official inspection tours.

With the imperial heirloom rediscovered – the present scroll – was originally kept in the Ningshou Gong of the Forbidden City, was given by the last Emperor Puyi to his younger brother Pujie in the early 1920s.

A Masterwork by Emperor Qianlong’s Favourite Painter to Auction Off

Created by Qian Weicheng between 1720-1772, this handscroll on auction depicts ten auspicious landscapes of Taishan bears the impression of the imperial seal and has also been inscribed with poems written by the Qianlong Emperor.

This scroll, complete with ink and colour on paper and measuring 33.7 cm by 458 cm, is now going on auction at Sotheby’s for approximately SGD 8.5 million to SGD 11.8 million.

www.sothebys.com

The Florida Mansion Owned by Tiger Woods’ Former Wife is Up for Scoop

Images courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

Tiger Woods and his 38-year-old former wife who is a Swedish model Elin Nordegren ended their six-year marriage in 2010, and now, she is listing their custom-built property for sales at $49.5 million – and the plush abode will come with a three-storey Swarovski crystal chandelier.

Completed in 2014, the property was purchased by Nordegren in 2011 for $12.25 million and the 23,176 square-foot oceanfront residence is nestled on a 1.4-acre in Seminole Landing, in North Palm Beach, Florida. The home has 11 bedrooms, 15 full baths, 3 partial baths, and a two-bedroom guest house, plus an array of spaces ideal for indoor and outdoor living and entertainment. The estate is also a stone’s throw away from the Seminole Golf Club and numerous other championship courses, completing the consummate Florida lifestyle.

Inspired by the British West Indies style, the house is strategically located near the oceanfront, which means residents can benefit from the resort-like lifestyle and enjoy the peace and tranquility at the outdoor spaces.

The estate also consist of a lush lawn, a swimming pool with a water-slide and a spa, lounge areas with fire pits, and a half basketball court.

Entering the house, there’s a three-storey Swarovski crystal chandelier with a glimmering design that imitates the ocean that is suspended from the ceiling right at the centre of the stairway.

On the upper level is the master suite, equipped with his-and-hers baths, three fireplaces, a walk-in closet, and a balcony to enjoy the sweeping views of the Atlantic.

The dining features an expansive space and it can accommodate a large group of guests for home gatherings. If needed, homeowners can pull open the glass walls to reveal the subdued and verdant green lawns, overlooking the ocean. Elegantly styled and outfitted for culinary pursuits, the kitchen includes an island with a hidden television, a coffee bar, refrigerator drawers, a walk-in pantry, counter seating, and a breakfast area with a beach view.

Each of the four uniquely stylish guest bedrooms includes an en suite bath and walk-in closet

Elsewhere, the rooftop terrace affords a breathtaking panorama of ocean vistas. The lower level offers a temperature-controlled wine cellar, theatre, fitness centre, catering kitchen, and a four-car garage.

www.sothebysrealty.com

(Source: Sotheby’s International Realty)

5 Fine Timepieces to Buy for HIM

Whether it’s through auctions, selling exhibitions or private sales, Sotheby’s offers buyers the simplest and most reliable place to buy and sell highly valuable, unique objects. Looking for watches to buy online? Sotheby’s BidNow programme allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. With about 11 more days to bid, browse these five exquisite timepieces that we have selected FOR HIM.

5 Fine Timepieces For HIM (Online-Only Auction)

LOT 1: ROLEX

Estimate: CHF15,000 – CHF20,000
Current Bid:
CHF15,000 (3 BIDS) RESERVE MET 

This watch uses the calibre 4130 automatic lever movement, with a 40 mm case and black ceramic bezel with tachymeter scale calibrated to 400 units. It has screw down chronograph pushers, crown and back as well as a stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet with folding clasp. The black dial features applied luminescent baton indexes, subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour registers, including 44 jewels  to complete this version of the Rolex Daytona Circa 2016 (Reference 116500LN). Accompanied by a Rolex guarantee card, instruction booklet and presentation case.

LOT 3: ROLEX

Estimate: CHF2,000 – CHF4,000
Current Bid:
CHF2,600 (6 BIDS) RESERVE MET

The Rolex (Reference 14270) Explorer Circa 2000 features an in-house manufactured calibre 3000 automatic lever movement, a 35 mm case, fitted with a stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet with folding clasp. This version of the iconic Rolex Explorer Circa 2000 will appeal to future buyer for its simple and luxurious design. On black dial showcases 27 jewels, applied luminescent Arabic numerals and baton indexes. Overall, the dial and hands are said to be in very good condition with minor scuffs and scratches of the case and bracelet.

Lot 6: Audemars Piguet

Estimate: CHF12,000 – CHF16,000
Current Bid:
CHF11,000 (3 BIDS) RESERVE MET

The Royal Oak Circa 2012 (Reference 26320ST.00.1220ST.01 MVT) uses calibre 2385, automatic lever movement with a 41 mm stainless steel  Royal Oak case and octagonal bezel, with caseback secured by 8 screws. The design of this Royal Oak Circa 2012 timepiece features a black tapisserie dial, showcasing 37 jewels,  applied luminescent indexes, subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour registers, and aperture for date. It has a stainless steel Audemars Piguet bracelet with double folding clasp. Buyer of this watch will receive the Audemars Piguet certificate booklet, instruction manual, and a presentation case.

Lot 13: Franck Muller

Estimate: CHF4,000 – CHF6,000
Current Bid:
CHF3,800 (2 BIDS) RESERVE NOT MET

The 18k pink-gold Franck Muller timepiece uses an in-house manufactured calibre 2800MB (eta 2892/2) has a gold tonneau-form case with an 18k pink gold  Franck Muller buckle. This watch features an automatic centre seconds and has 21 jewels, a silvered dial with Arabic numerals and an aperture for date. The caseback is secured by 4 screws. The buyer of this exquisite timepiece will receive the Franck Muller Certificate of Origin.

Lot 14: Cartier

Estimate: CHF2,000 – CHF4,000
Current Bid:
CHF2,400 (10 BIDS) RESERVE MET

Framed by a DLC-coated titanium square case and the bezel and caseback secured by (8 screws on each side), the watch is fitted with a DLC-coated titanium and stainless steel Cartier double folding clasp. On the black dial shows the automatic Chronograph wristwatch with registers and date reference 3104 case 184611PX Santos 100 Circa 2010. Featuring Calibre 8630, automatic movement and 27 jewels, the black dial has Roman numerals and secret signature at VII. The dial and hands are in excellent condition, with minor scuffs and scratches on the case.

www.sothebys.com

Very Rare Qing Dynasty Bowl Could Fetch USD 26.5 Million

Very Rare Qing Dynasty Bowl Could Fetch USD 26.5 Million

From diamonds and handbags to ancient ceramics, Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction houses have seen some of it most exquisite items sold at record-breaking prices among Asian buyers at auctions in recent years.

This extremely rare bowl used by the Kangxi Emperor in the 1720s, could fetch a shattering price of approximately USD25.6 million at Sotheby’s when it goes on auction in Hong Kong on April 3.

“It could even surpass the record for Chinese ceramics, auction house Sotheby’s said.

Measuring at 14.7 cm in diameter, the dainty pink bowl is decorated with falangcai (painted enamels combining Chinese and Western techniques) and flowers, including daffodils which are not typically depicted on Chinese porcelain.

“Definitely we will see the most important collectors of Chinese porcelain active,” deputy chairman for Sotheby’s Asia Nicolas Chow said in a preview Thursday.

“We will see quite a battle this season,” Chow added.

The bowl was created in an imperial workshop within Beijing’s Forbidden City by a small team of craftsmen, with the help of Jesuits from Europe who had brought over new techniques and materials, according to Sotheby’s.

Last year, a 1,000-year-old bowl from China’s Song Dynasty sold for US$37.7 million, setting a record for Chinese ceramics.

That sale surpassed the previous record of $36.05 million set in 2014 for a Ming Dynasty wine cup which was snapped up by a Shanghai tycoon famous for making eye-watering bids.

(Source: AFP)

1953 Ferrari 166 MM Spider

1953 Ferrari 166 MM Spider

The fifth of 13 166 MMs built by Ferrari in early 1953, it has a chassis number 0272 M. The body is said to have been designed by Aurelio Lampredi and is believed to have been built by automaker Ferrari.

The 166 MM is easily recognised by its unique coachwork, the only 166 MM built in this style and made its first race at the 1953 Giro di Sicilia, followed by the Mille Miglia wearing race #514. Lovely continued to race at the 1954 Mille Miglia by Emmanuel de Graffenried and G. Parravicini, bearing #556.

Moreover, after being featured exclusively in the MGM film The Racers with Kirk Douglas as stuntmen at the wheel, the 166 frequent races for a period in Italy and on the U.S. West Coast, in addition to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1961, the numerous concours events, such as Le Belle Macchine d’Italia in Pennsylvania in 2011, winning Best of Show, as well as the Amelia Island and Greenwich Concours in 2017.

Thus, making it an ideal entrant for concours events or vintage racing.

As confirmed by marque historian Marcel Massini, the 166 MM “retains all of its original mechanical components, including the frame, engine, gearbox, rear axle, steering box and all carburettors, all accounted for on copies of the factory build sheets.”

However, the car has also received modification such as “a complete engine rebuild, in terms of additional electronic ignition, upgraded alternator and auxiliary electric cooling fan, and the five-speed gearbox has been updated to be fully synchronised.”

All of these changes are said to be “reversible” and can be converted back to its original specification.

Honoured for making a fascinating history not only at the Mille Miglia, but also the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, the 166 MM has been described as reliable, smooth and with plenty of horsepower on tap channelled through its mighty V-12 and five-speed gearbox, making it truly a joy to drive as well.

RM Sotheby’s will kickstart its 2018 auction at the historic Place Vauban in the city’s centre in Paris, on Feb 7, for its fifth annual sale during the world-famous Rétromobile show week. The auction sale will present the finest sports, racing, and touring cars from both pre- and post-war periods.

Offered between €3,700,000 – €4,500,000 (S$6 million-S$7.3million), visit the official website for more details on how you can buy.

Portrait of Picasso’s ‘Golden Muse’ to go on Auction

Pablo Picasso – A vivid, poignant and intense image of his ‘golden muse’ Marie-Thérèse Walter.

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

One of Pablo Picasso’s defining portrait “La Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter)” will  lead the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, held on February 28 in London.

Held by auction house Sotheby’s, the portrait is offered at auction for the very first time and is one of Picasso’s muses, Marie-Thérèse Walter, his “Golden Muse.” The painting was completed in 1937, a year during which Picasso also painted his monumental masterpiece “Guernica”.

The former belongs to a prolific period of the artist’s career in which his relationship with Marie-Thérèse was complicated by his falling in love with Dora Maar, providing the impetus for a stream of portraits of both of his lovers, according to a statement by the auction house.

“With such a strong appetite for Picasso’s work from across the globe, this defining portrait from a pivotal year in the oeuvre of the most globally recognised artist is the perfect piece to headline our first major auction season of 2018,” commented Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe.

She added that “It is all the more remarkable to be able to offer a painting of this calibre that has never been seen on the market before.”

The painting will go on display from January 30 to February 2 in Hong Kong, February 6 to 7 in Taipei, February 12 to 14 in New York before going on showcase in London from February 22 to 28.

An exhibition themed on Pablo Picasso’s work in the year 1932, “The Ey Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy” opens March 8 at London’s Tate Modern.

Click here to view other artworks offered at the upcoming Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale.

Classic French cars sold at Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction in Lake Como, Italy

This Talbot-Lago T150-C SS “Goutte d’Eau” Coupé by Figoni & Falaschi sold for €3.36 million at the RM Sotherby’s Villa Erba auction.

In the sumptuous setting of the shores of Lake Como, some 40 classic cars went under the hammer at the RM Sotheby’s auction. Of all the lots, two French classic cars stood out from the crowd.

A sensational Talbot-Lago T150-C SS “Goutte d’Eau” Coupé by Figoni & Falaschi sold for €3.36 million. This entirely restored “Teardrop” coupé is one of only two examples of the striking “Goutte d’Eau” built by Figoni & Falaschi with fully enclosed front fenders. Another big hitter at the sale was a 1935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Prototype, which sold for €3.024 million.

In third place came a 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.8, which sold for €2.016 million. Three Ferraris also broke the million mark: a 275 GTS by Pininfarina dating from 1965 (€1.792 million), a 1964 250 GT/L Berlinetta Lusso by Scaglietti (€1.428 million) and a 1990 F40 (€1.064 million).

Note that several vehicles listed in the auction remain unsold, including a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S Torpedo-Sport Avant-Garde by Saoutchik, which could have been the star of the sale (estimated at €6.5-€8 million), as well as some much more recent vehicles, like a 2016 McLaren P1 GTR (estimated at €3.2 to €3.6 million) and a 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari (€2.75 to €3.2 million).

Art auction in Paris: Auguste Rodin’s sculpture ‘Andromede’ sells for $4.1 million

“Andromède” by Auguste Rodin.

Auguste Rodin’s white marble sculpture of the mythical Ethiopian princess “Andromede” fetched nearly 3.7 million euros ($4.1 million) at a Paris auction Tuesday, well above the top estimated price of 1.2 million euros. The rediscovered masterpiece—created in 1886-1887 and depicting the daughter of Ethiopian King Cepheus nude and asleep on a rock—was sold by the Artcurial auction house just as Paris is marking the centenary of Rodin’s death.

An exhibit of more than 200 of his works and those of artists he influenced is showing at the Grand Palais in the French capital until the end of July.

In 1888, Rodin presented the work to Carlos Morla Vicuna, a Chilean diplomat living in Paris at the time, as a gift, said Bruno Jaubert, Artcurial’s director of the impressionist and modern art department. It has been in the Vicuna’s family ever since. “For 130 years she stayed in this family of diplomats despite the members’ different foreign postings,” Jaubert said.

The work, one of five carvings Rodin created of the subject, is especially notable for the contrast between Andromede’s smooth finish and the virtually untouched roughness of the jutting slab of rock.

The $4.1 million sale price, while substantial, is far from the record set last year for a Rodin sculpture—his “Eternal springtime” marble sculpture of lovers sold for $20.41 million at Sotheby’s in New York in May 2016.

Sotheby’s to auction 26-carat cushion cut diamond from London junk sale

A diamond ring bought for next to nothing in a London junk sale is expected to fetch up to £350,000 ($455,000, 405,000 euros), said Sotheby’s auction house. The owner bought the 26-carat, white diamond ring for £10 in the 1980s and wore it while doing shopping and chores, thinking it was costume jewellery, Sotheby’s said.

“The owner would wear it out shopping, wear it day-to-day. It’s a good-looking ring,” said Jessica Wyndham, head of Sotheby’s London jewellery department. “No one had any idea it had any intrinsic value at all. The majority of us can’t even begin to dream of owning a diamond that large.”

The diamond is thought to have been cut in the 19th century, when the style was to cut to conserve the weight rather than to make it as sparkly as possible, hence its relatively dull brilliance. “It could trick people into thinking it’s not a genuine stone,” said Wyndham. She said the owner, who does not want to be named, brought the ring in after a jeweller told them it could be worth something. She said the owner was “incredibly excited. Anyone would be in this position: it’s a life-changing amount of money. “This is a one-off windfall, an amazing find.”

The ring will be auctioned on June 7 and is expected to fetch between £250,000 and £350,000. Sotheby’s said the owner came forward in the past few months seeking a valuation. “Much to the owner’s surprise, the ring turned out to be a genuine cushion-shaped diamond weighing 26.27 carats with an attractive colour grade of I and impressive clarity grade of VVS2,” the auctioneers said.

The clarity grade “Very, very slightly included 2” is the fourth-highest out of 11, while a colour grading of I means it is near colourless, on the scale from D to Z.

Apollo and Artemis diamond earrings fetch record-breaking $57.4 million at Sotheby’s auction

We previously wrote that this pair of earrings were likely to be the most valuable earrings to appear in auction—and we were right. Two spectacular diamonds— the Apollo Blue and Artemis Pink—mounted as earrings fetched a record $57.4-million (51.8 million euros) at auction on May 16 in Geneva, with an unnamed Asia-based buyer netting both, Sotheby’s said.

After protracted bidding, the flawless and vivid Type IIb diamond “The Apollo Blue” fetched $42.087-million. The equally intensely luminescent “The Artemis Pink” went for $15.33-million, buyers premium included. The earrings were sold as separate lots.

The earrings, named after the twin Greek gods, had respectively been valued at between $38-million and $50-million and $12.5-million and $18-million.The 14.54-carat “Apollo Blue” is the largest gemstone in its category ever to be auctioned and has been cut and polished to a pear shape.

The 16-carat “Artemis Pink” is near identical in shape. It is also one of the world’s most “chemically pure” diamonds, according to the Gemological Institute of America, which experts say gives the stone such a high degree of transparency.

Constantin Brancusi bronze sculpture auctioned for $57 million by Christie’s New York

Sold for an astonishing $57.37 million in New York on Monday was a bronze sculpture welded by Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brancusi. The sculpture of a sleeping woman’s head—”La muse endormie”— by the pioneer of modernism sold after nine minutes of bidding at Christie’s impressionist and modern art sale, kicking off a week of high-profile art auctions expected to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.

The 1913 sculpture was cast by Constantin Brancusi who spent most of his working career in Paris. Despite being valued pre-sale at $25-35 million, it was snapped up by an anonymous bidder for twice its intended price.

The second top selling lot was a Picasso portrait of his mistress, Dora Maar, called “Femme assise, robe bleue,” painted on the Spanish master’s 58th birthday, which sold for $45 million, Christie’s said.

The oil painting was originally owned by the artist’s friend and gallerist Paul Rosenberg, before being confiscated by the Nazis and being discovered and rescued by Rosenberg’s son.

It was later acquired by US financier, industrialist and art collector George David Thompson. It was valued pre-sale at $35-50 million.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s—the esteemed houses founded in 18th century London—are chasing combined sales of at least $1.1 billion in offering for auction hundreds of contemporary, modern and impressionist works of art this week in New York.

The top estimate for the week is a 1982 “Untitled” by Jean-Michel Basquiat—a skull-like head on a giant canvas in oil-stick, acrylic and spray paint—for which Sotheby’s hopes to smash a new auction record for the US artist at more than $60 million.

Much of the art being offered this season is fresh to market—84 percent of the works offered by Christie’s on Monday had never been offered at auction or have been off the market for 20 years or more. Christie’s said the evening sale of impressionist and modern greats, including Monet, Chagall and Fernand Leger, fetched $289 million.

Buyers from 35 countries registered to bid, with 42 percent American and 23 percent Asian buying by lot, said Jessica Fertig, senior Christie’s specialist in impressionist and modern art.

Picasso holds the world record for the most expensive piece of art sold at auction with his “The Women of Algiers (Version 0)” fetching $179.4 million at Christie’s in New York in 2015.

Art auctions in Hong Kong: Warhol Mao portrait fetches US$12.7m in Sotheby’s auction

A Parody?: King of Pop Art's portrait of the former Chinese Community Party leader fell short of its estimate at a Hong Kong auction. The painting is shown here at Sotheby's Hong Kong Gallery. Image courtesy of Sotheby's Facebook Page

A Parody?: King of Pop Art’s portrait of the former Chinese Community Party leader fell short of its estimate at a Hong Kong auction. The painting is shown here at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s Facebook Page

A classic Andy Warhol portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong fetched US$12.7 million at an auction in Hong Kong on Sunday, Sotheby’s said well short of the top estimate of more than US$15 million.

The sale of the 1973 screen print by the legendary US pop artist attracted plenty of attention before going under the hammer in the semi-autonomous city owing to sensitivity about any use of Mao’s image in China.

The top sale price estimate of more than US$15 million was the highest the auction house had ever seen for a painting in Asia. The identity of the buyer was not released. Sotheby’s had described the event as the first “significant” sale of Western contemporary art in Hong Kong, which was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

But while buyers from mainland China have developed massive market clout, Warhol’s images of Mao have drawn controversy there. A major touring retrospective of his works removed pictures of the former leader when it visited Shanghai and Beijing in 2013.

Mao’s legacy as Communist China’s founding father makes him inseparable from official propaganda extolling the party’s ruling legitimacy, and his huge portrait still overlooks vast Tiananmen Square and appears on Chinese banknotes.

Yet his mistakes, such as disastrous economic policies blamed for mass starvation and the political witch hunts of the 1966 to 1976 “Cultural Revolution“, left a bitter aftertaste and depictions of him otherwise remain strictly controlled.

Luxury car auctions: Classic car collectors favour modern day editions from Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin

The collectible classic car industry has long been one that gets your heart pumping. With the prospect of collecting an item so elusive you’re one of the few ‘lucky ones’ to obtain, classic car connoisseurs are known for their deep passion in the industry. Despite talk of bubbles, and of Ferrari fatigue, the classic car market is in extremely good health as 2016 becomes 2017. Yet, we ask ourselves what makes a car collectible? The very definition of what makes a car collectable or desirable is changing faster than a classic Ferrari’s 0-100km/h time.

On the whole the market has remained very strong,” begins RM Sotheby’s Peter Haynes. “Probably the thing that came out of 2016 most clearly is a shift towards what the industry is calling the modern classic.” By modern, Haynes says that interest in automotive exotica from the late 80s and 90s is now huge. “It’s really hard to account for this change unless what we’re seeing is the beginning of a sustained shift in the market — the passing of one generation and a new generation of buyers coming in,” he says.

As a rule, collectors that buy with their heart rather than as an alternative to a hedge fund, will be drawn to those cars that have a personal, emotional significance.

“People are buying the cars they want to buy,” explains Robert Johnson, director of Classic and Sports Finance, a company that helps collectors track down and pay for exotic cars, whether at auction or through dealers. “It’s a case of what do I really want? What do I aspire to and what was on my bedroom wall as a kid?”

And in the 80s and 90s, bedroom walls were covered in pictures of the Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari Testarossa, Porsche 959 and the Porsche 911 Turbo. Over the past 12 months, prices for all of these models, and their successors have started climbing. At the RM Sotheby’s Paris sale on February 7, a 1988 Porsche 959 Sport went for a world record €1.96 million, but a 1995 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet attracted a winning bid of €1.34 million.

And the auction houses are now changing the mix of lots on offer to cater for this changing taste. “A few years ago, it was very rare to find an auction house selling a new car,” points out Haynes.

Yet at this year’s Paris sale, some of the biggest lots were also the newest. A 2014 Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series went for €470,000, a 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO for €450,000, a 2012 Aston Martin V12 Zagato fetched €750,400 and a 2016 Porsche 911R went for €515,200. These prices point to a second growing trend in the collector car space. The investors that would normally be buying up mid-1960s Ferraris are now looking to rare modern cars instead.

“A lot of people are now sniffing these cars out rather than going to classic car auctions,” points out Haynes. And at the moment there is no shortage of choice. McLaren, Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini have all unveiled extremely rare, extremely expensive models over the past 12 months, from the Ferrari J50, to the aforementioned Porsche 911 R and the Lamborghini Centenario.

But in each case, the entire run has sold out before the first example has been built. “People are going to start clambering over each other to buy them,” says Haynes, who believes the cars will be stored for resale and never driven.

However, it could also be good news for everyone else. Some of the most desirable traditional classics, could soon be within more collectors’ reach. A 1973 Alfa Romeo Montreal sold for just €78,400 at the Paris sale, a Maserati Bora for just €179,200 and a 1970 Ferrari Dino 246 GT L Series for €448,000 — that’s less than a 2016 Porsche or a 2012 Aston Martin.

5 Best Castles Europe

Invest in These: 5 Top Castles, Europe 2016

There is no better place than Europe to admire some of the most majestic castles in the world. Once theaters of war and conflict, houses of the powerful, those medieval palaces are -for the most part- still standing and ready to reveal their oldest secrets. Palace Magazine selected five of the most beautiful castles currently for sale across the continent so you can start writing your own fairytale now.

1) Italy: Medieval Castle Near Siena – $31.13 million (above)

This castle dates back to the 12th century and despite multiple alterations and extensions it retains the appearance of a true fortress. Set on 360 hectares, the estate includes restored farmhouses, olive groves, vineyards and views stretching all the way to Siena. The 40,000 sq. ft. main castle has 10 bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, original frescoes and fireplaces. Available through Sotheby’s Realty.

2) Ireland: Glin Castle – $7.27 millionGlin Castle

This plush castle near Limerick has been in the FitzGerald family, hereditary Knights of Glin, for over 700 years. The property features 21 bedrooms and superb interiors with decorative plasterwork and notable collections of Irish furniture and paintings. Set on the waterfront and within 23 acres of gardens that seamlessly link to the wider parkland estate and woodlands. Available through Christie’s International Real Estate.

3) Spain: 13th Century Castle – $16.27 million13th Century Castle

Located in western Spain near the border to Portugal, this impressive castle includes over 1,000 acres of land and hunting grounds for wild boar and deer. The property was built in 1275, but has been fully refurbished and includes six bedrooms, nine reception rooms and a small museum. Available through Moulin International Real Estate.

4) Scotland: Earlshall Castle – $6.48 millionEarlshall Castle

Located in Leuchars, Fife, near St. Andrews, this stately 16th century castle features 10 bedrooms, eight reception rooms, a grand dining room, several outbuildings and a five-car garage. The property is set on 34 acres and has a celebrated walled garden designed by Sir Robert Lorimer. A number of renowned golf courses are located nearby. Available through Savills.

5) France: Castle Uzes – Price Upon RequestCastle Uzes

This picturesque 12th century castle in the south of France boasts over 8,600 sq. ft. of living space with 31 rooms, inner and outer courtyards, a roof garden and a swimming pool. The property has been fully restored, but retains original features like a Louis XIV fireplace, 17th century frescoes and coffered ceilings. Available through Sotheby’s Realty.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Louis XIII Cognac Sets New Sotheby’s Record

Sotheby’s set a new record of $558,000 with the sale of three Louis XIII L’Odyssée D’un Roi limited edition decanters. The three specially crafted decanters are the result of more than a century of fine craftsmanship from three prestigious French luxury houses: Hermès, Puiforcat and Saint-Louis .

Before the auction that saw the decanters being sold for a total of $558,000, the objets-d’art had a whirlwind tour that saw it visit various cities around the globe. Last month, the auction house saw the Americas edition of the same cognac beat the previous record price set for a Louis XIII decanter. Later that same month, the Asia edition beat its own previous auction record in Hong Kong. The final decanter, the Europe edition, was sold on November 16 at Sotheby’s London for $235,000._louis-xiii_l_odyssee-dun-roi_-nov-2016-auction

The proceeds from the sale of the three tailor-made coupes will go towards The Film Foundation that was created by Martin Scorsese. Created in 1990, the foundation helps to restore and preserve the traditions and history of cinema. “Sotheby’s was delighted to help raise funds for The Film Foundation through this unique series of auctions, each in our major sales locations” said Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine.

blue diamond sotheby's

Rare Blue Diamond Sold for $17.1 million: Sotheby’s

Earlier this week, a rare blue diamond was sold for $17.1 million during Sotheby’s autumn jewel auctions in Geneva. The 8.01-carat diamond, appropriately named “Sky Blue” and presented in a Cartier setting was valued at $15-25 million by the auction house and had been previously sold in 2012 for $12.8 million – gaining 33 percent in value in four years.

Despite this success, “Sky Blue” pales in comparison with another blue diamond sold by Christie’s, highlighting the intense rivalry between Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The 14.62-carat  “Oppenheimer Blue”, sold in May at a Christie’s auction for $57.54 million – which remains the world record price.

“Given the rarity of blue diamonds of this size and quality which have ever been unearthed, you’d expect every auction of this kind to be a dogfight,” said Tobias Kormind, head of 77 Diamonds, Europe’s biggest online diamond jewellery retailer.

It wasn’t all sunny skies at Sotheby’s though, as the auction house did not manage to find buyers for two valuable items.

First is a parure that used to belong to Russian empress Catherine I. Valued at $3-5 million, it features diamonds and has, shall we say, a quite interesting story.

The other unsold piece also belonged to the Russian imperial family, this time Catherine II, also called Catherine the Great. The diamond necklace, fitted with a detachable clasps, was valued at $5 million and you can read more about it in our earlier story via the link above.

Christie’s, which opened the season on Tuesday with 167 lots, achieved $97 million in sales, and beat its pre-auction estimate of $80 million. Sotheby’s, on the other hand, were expecting total sales in excess of $100 million this season.

Munch Painting Fetches $54.5 million: Sotheby’s

Munch Painting Fetches $54.5 million: Sotheby’s

Edvard Munch – the artist behind the ridiculously famous “The Scream” – hit a new auction high Monday in New York with “Girls on the Bridge.” The painting sold for $54.5 million, the second-highest auction price paid for a work by the Norwegian painter, Sotheby’s said.

The 1902 painting depicting women in colorful dresses that contrast with a dark, anguished landscape, fetched a price solidly higher than the auction house’s estimate of above $50 million.

The painting has broken records every time it has gone under the hammer. It went for $30.8 million in 2008, compared with $7.7 million in 1997.

Munch’s most famous work, “The Scream,” was his most expensive work of art to sell at auction, at $119.9 million in 2012. If it ever emerges again, it’ll do even better.

“Girls” is one of the star paintings at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale. The autumn art auctions organized by Sotheby’s and rival Christie’s are set to continue through the week.

At Sotheby’s, the spotlight returns a long-running series of Pablo Picasso paintings titled “Painter and his model.” This particular 1963 painting by the Spanish artist sold Monday for $12.9 million. It had been estimated between $12 million and $18 million.

This first auction of the week, which drew more than 600 collectors or buyers from around the world by phone or in person, notched up about $151.9 million in sales in paintings and sculptures.

Among the other works to go on the auction block this week is Claude Monet’s “Meul,” part of a series of haystacks the French artist painted during the winter of 1890-1891. Christie’s has estimated it will sell at $45 million.

Another notable Christie’s offer will be Willem de Kooning’s imposing “Untitled XXV” – 6.5 by 7 feet (2 by 2.2 meters) – featuring the Dutch-American’s typically vigorous, multicolored brush strokes. Christie’s estimates a sale at $40 million.

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

Bowie Art Auction Nets $41 Million: Sotheby’s

We are not sure what kind of record this is but the Sotheby’s David Bowie auction deserves to be recognized as landmark event. The London auction of the music legend’s art collection ended with sales totaling almost £33 million ($41.5 million). Even the exhibits of the works drew record crowds, Sotheby’s said Saturday. The estimate on the sale had been about $13 million.

Every item in the collection, which included over 130 works of modern and contemporary British art, was sold in a series of sales as buyers’ enthusiasm for the late musician’s collection exceeded expectations.

Exhibitions of the works in London attracted some 51,470 visitors, the highest attendance for any pre-sale exhibition in the British capital, the auction house said.

The auctions themselves were attended by 1,750 bidders, with over 1,000 more bidding on line.

“David Bowie’s personal art collection captured the imagination of the tens of thousands who visited our exhibitions and the thousands who took part in the sales,” said Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe.

The collection offered “a fresh insight into the creative mind of one of the greatest cultural figures of our time,” he added.

Sales of works by Damien Hirst, Henry Moore and Marcel Duchamp among others totalled £32.9 million ($41.5 million, 38.3 million euros), Sotheby’s said.

The highest-selling item in Bowie’s collection, the graffiti-inspired “Air Power” canvas by Basquiat, sold for £7.09 million. It had been expected to fetch between £2.5 and £3.5 million.

Bowie bought “Air Power” and another painting by the artist, who died from an overdose in 1988 aged 27, shortly before the 1996 biopic “Basquiat,” in which the rocker played his early idol Andy Warhol.

New records were set for more than half of the artists represented in the “White Glove” sale of Bowie’s works, according to Sotheby’s.

Frank Auerbach’s “Head of Gerda Boehm” sold for a record £3.8 million. Bowie once said of the painting: “My God, yeah! I want to sound like that looks.”

Bowie was quoted in the New York Times in 1998 as saying that art was “the only thing I’d ever wanted to own.”

A spokesman for his estate said the musician “enjoyed sharing the works in the collection… supporting the art and artists that were part of his world.”