Tag Archives: Sotheby’s

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.”

Pierre Berge Library Auction By Sotheby’s: Part Two

As we announced a few months agoPierre Berge, the co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion empire has auctioned off the second part of his library in Paris. The private collection, which was made up of 376 works, is estimated to be the most valuable and has raised five million euros. Under the care of auction house Sotheby’s, rare first editions of classics of 19th century European literature including signed books by French greats such as Balzac, Hugo, Stendhal and Baudelaire.

Two pieces by Gustave Flaubert went under the hammer. The first, was a handwritten manuscript that sees the whole passages of the novelist’s travelogue “Over the Fields and over the Shores”, scratched out. The travelogue that earned 537,880 euros, was an account of his tour of France’s Loire and Brittany regions in 1886. The second was an original edition of Flaubert’s masterpiece “Madame Bovary” that sold for nearly twice its estimate at 190,369 euros.

However, the top earner from the two-day sale was for the manuscript of Stephane Mallarme’s “Noces d’Heriodiade”. The manuscript about the marriage of the biblical character Salome’s mother, sold for 587,720 euros. The sale adds to the 11.7 million euros that had been raised by the French philanthropist last year from first part of his collection. With four more sales of the library planned for next year, the collection is expected to be worth over 30 million euros. The proceeds of the auctions will be given to a foundation set up by Berge with Saint Laurent.

3 Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels Auction Lots

On November 16, the Sotheby’s auction house in Geneva will be putting some beautiful jewelry on the block as part of its Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels sale. As the name suggests, the auction will feature pieces of prominence that are not only rare but also of significance. While the full collection is currently on its way to New York for an exhibition before the auction, there are a few lots that have caught our attention.imperial-russian-necklace-with-bowknot-clasp-hr

From Russia with love, comes two pieces of jewelry that are linked to Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. As two of Russia’s most important and best known leaders, it comes as no surprise that they were in possession of such fine pieces. The first is a elegant diamond necklace that is fastened with a delicate bowknot clasp (above). While it is said that the Empress Catherine II (also known to us today as ‘the Great’) had commissioned it as two separate pieces, the jewel has survived centuries and even World Wars hidden away in the Kremlin. At the auction, the jewel is expected to fetch more than $3 million.super-diamond-parure-zoom-hr

The second of the two is said to be one of the most important parures of antique colored diamond jewels (above) to go under the hammer in the last five decades. The parure once played an important role in ending the Pruth River Campaign, possibly the so-called bribe that saved Peter the Great’s army from a crushing defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Later, in the hands of the ill-fated Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the necklace in its present form was gifted to the wife of the Teufik of Egypt for what is thought to be the birth of the last Khedive of Egypt and Sudan.

“These two stunning jewels carry with them a fascinating insight into the luxury and opulence of the Russian court,” said David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division. He added “It is difficult to overstate their rarity and historical importance, and I am thrilled to be able to present them side by side this autumn.”the-sky-blue-diamond-hr

The final piece that we take a closer look at before the sale is ‘The Sky Blue Diamond’ (above) from Cartier that sits in the center. Measuring in at 8.01 carats, the rare fancy blue diamond is one that many diamond aficionados would love to own thanks to its rare hue. With an estimated value of $15 to 25 million, Sotheby’s is waiting with bated breath to find out of the gem will help it set a new world record for a third time in two years. The auction house previously set the bar for auction prices of blue diamonds with the Blue Moon of Josephine that was sold for a whopping $48.5 million or $4 million per carat (mind the currency fluctuations, which have raised the price in USD quite significantly.

The Magnificent Jewels & Nobel Jewels Collection will make its was to New York for an exhibition from November 4 to 6 and then to Geneva from November 12 to 16.

Zeng Fanzhi Returns to Roots

Zeng Fanzhi Returns to Roots at Beijing Retrospective

Blue-chip Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi built up a lucrative career by looking to the West for inspiration and buyers, but a new retrospective in Beijing reveals an unlikely turn back towards China’s own aesthetics and traditions.

It is a story increasingly common in the world’s second largest economy, where an growing disillusionment with material wealth has sent a generation in search of a heritage lost.

Zeng is China’s second best-selling living artist, according to wealth publisher the Hurun Report.

“In the beginning, you feel happy that you’ve attained a certain kind of recognition, and are sold for a very high price, but as time goes on, it vexes you,” he said. “People badmouth you, and the success influences your emotional state and creative process,” he added.

In 2013, his painting “The Last Supper” sold for $23.3 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, at the time the most expensive contemporary Asian work ever sold at auction.

It was one of his “Mask” series, paintings whose empty-eyed, white-masked figures spoke of the psychological tensions lurking in China as the political idealism of the 1980s gave way to the 1990s’ single-minded focus on rapid economic growth.

The media attention paid to just one period of his nearly three decade-long career left him feeling pigeon-holed, Zeng told AFP, following the opening of a retrospective of his work this month at Beijing’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA).

The masks became a brand, he said, an easily commodified image that reinforced Western preconceptions of China and were used by auction houses and art publications to boost their own sales.

Zeng rode the wave of China’s development, rising to fame from humble beginnings at a time when the country had no significant art market of its own.

Now that its art scene is well-established, he has lost the need to seek validation and inspiration from the West, choosing to look instead to his own roots, he said.

“In the ’80s, we were so starved for outside information; we wanted so much to understand the world and know about Western art,” he said, explaining his early obsession with artists like Paul Cezanne, Willem de Kooning and Lucian Freud.

He said: “But nowadays, there’s such an overwhelming amount of information – it’s cognitive overload. I have to close myself off and look inward to maintain my sense of self.”

Zeng Fanzhi Returns to Roots

This picture taken on September 22, 2016 shows staff members at the “Parcours: Zeng Fanzhi” exhibition at Beijing’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA). Blue-chip Chinese artist Zeng built up a lucrative career by looking to the West for inspiration and buyers, but a new retrospective in Beijing reveals an unlikely turn back towards China’s own aesthetics and traditions. © WANG ZHAO / AFP

Stark contrast

Zeng’s new show “Parcours: Zeng Fanzhi” exhibits more than 60 works from each of his wildly different major artistic stages, many for the first time on the mainland. He hopes it will provide a more complete picture of his continuous process of reinvention.

Monumental oil paintings of abstract landscapes overgrown with dark snarls of branches dominate the gallery’s central nave, flanked by detailed portraits of his Western muses.

The canvases are a stark contrast to his latest series: understated, black-and-white works on paper inspired by Song dynasty paintings.

They arise out of Zeng’s 2008 shift towards an exploration of paper itself, finding inspiration for his brushwork in the subtle variations of its grain – a technique inspired by Chinese artistic philosophies.

“As you grow older, your whole aesthetic sense and preferences change,” said Zeng, who has started collecting traditional Chinese art and designing literati gardens like the one outside his studio, which features jagged scholar’s rocks, stone lions and a koi pond.

Art for art’s sake

Despite Zeng’s philosophical shift, UCCA director Philip Tinari admitted that it was impossible for the show to escape the shadow of his sales records: “He has probably created more financial value than all but a very few artists alive today.”

Nevertheless, “there’s an honesty about this work that’s not immediately apparent,” Tinari said. Zeng’s output is testament to a key moment in China’s artistic engagement with the outside world, when his generation found real inspiration and meaning in the Western idea of art as a tool of fomenting social change, he explained.

In the recent paper series, Tinari said he saw Zeng “pulling further and further back from the day-to-day of reality” as he grew older and wealthier, a change that echoes China’s growing global status.

The return to a Chinese artistic vocabulary reflects not just a change in the way Zeng sees himself, but in the way the world sees Chinese artists.

As China becomes richer and more powerful, Tinari said, its artists do “not necessarily need to make work that narrates the Chinese situation, or that explains the social and political problems and questions of the nation”. The change, he said, is a sign that China, along with its art market, is maturing.

“The world is only ready to hear about art for art’s sake from people who come from a certain place on the geopolitical continuum.”

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

David Bowie is many things to many people, perhaps more so in death than in life. He’s certainly a rock star and a legend of popular culture, whatever you think or feel about his music. The beloved icon, who died January aged 69 from cancer, maintains an incredible legacy of transcendent albums and brilliantly reinvented alter egos.

His multi-faceted art collection, set for a keenly anticipated London sale by Sotheby’s, might mark him as an important art collector too. In life, his art collection was a private affair that stirred little interest. In death, well, everyone wants to know what role art (other than his own) played in his life and if his collection is significant. The world gets its answer as the collection travels for display internationally, to be followed by the auction in London later this fall.

Bowie’s amassed paintings, sculptures, and design items from his life-long collection were briefly on view at Sotheby’s Los Angeles hub, located in a tower in Century City (it concluded Wednesday, September 21). In addition to LA, Sotheby’s will display a selection of works at their venues in New York (September 26-29) and Hong Kong (October 12-15), before a 10-day homecoming display (November 1-10) culminating in a penultimate three-day auction in London on November 10 and 11. The collection is estimated at more than £10m ($13m).

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

Jean-Michel Basquiat, ‘Air Power,’ 1984 © Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Simon Hucker, Sotheby’s senior specialist in modern and postwar British art, described Bowie’s collection to The Guardian as “quiet and meditative,” as well as “unusual and unpredictable, as you’d guess with Bowie.”

The array spans Harold Gilman’s “Interior (Mrs Mounter),” a portrait of an English cleaning lady in a Tottenham Court Road room (1917); Ettore Sottsass’s Enorme Telephone (1986); Wyndham Lewis’s “Circus Scene” (1913-14); Patrick Caulfield’s “Foyer,” a 1973 portrait of a cinema entrance, valued up to £600,000; Damien Hirst’s “Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting,” valued up to £350,000; and Frank Auerbach’s “Head of Gerda Boehm,” valued up to £500,000. (Of Auerbach’s work, Bowie notably said: “I want to sound like that looks.”) More affordable works by lesser-known artists balance out the assorted value spectrum.

Bowie often purchased works by directly contacting the artists in question, sometimes visiting their studios to acquaint himself with the makers and the oeuvres both. Bowie himself studied art and design as a young man at a technical college in the suburbs of London.

David Bowie Art Collection Tours US, World

Damien Hirst, ‘Beautiful, Shattering, Slashing, Violent, Pinky, Hacking, Sphincter Painting,’ 1995 © Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Survive your first classic car auction

Guide: How to Survive Your First Classic Car Auction

The height of the summer is also the height of classic car auction season and it might just be worth your time to attend. After the excitement of the record lots going under the hammer during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance you might be thinking that attending an auction, whether to get your hands on a multi-million dollar classic or something more down to earth but equally collectable is something you want to try.

While an auction can be daunting and exciting at the same time, as long as you remember a few golden rules, there’s nothing to stop anyone registering, attending and potentially coming away with that classic they’ve always wanted.

There isn’t a minimum net worth threshold you have to cross to qualify or anything like that. “It is simply a fun, exciting, and sensible arena for both buying and selling,” explains Bonhams UK head of motorcars, Tim Schofield.

Budget, rather than the type of car you want, will dictate which type of auction you attend. For example, a typical RM Sotheby’s sale is almost exclusively made up of lots worth over $250,000. And even the one or two bargains could prove out of reach.

Survive your first classic car auction 1960 Fiat 500 Jolly by Ghia

But beware the 1960 Fiat 500 Jolly by Ghia, even it could prove out of reach. © Darin Schnabel Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

“The cheapest car in the room,” says Peter Haynes from RM Sotheby’s. “Someone who has just spent $2.4 million on a 1957 Ferrari Tour De France might well have a villa in the south of France and think that that car [it’s usually a Fiat Jolly] would look great sitting outside. So he’ll stick his hand in his pocket and take it.”

Gooding & Co takes a similar high-value approach but will ensure 5 to 10 genuinely affordable niche models in its catalogue. However for the best spread of brands and price points, look to a Bonhams, Russo and Steele, or Mecum sale.

Once you’ve picked your auction, get researching. “Make sure you know the good points and bad points of each model type,” says Schofield. “Go and look at the best example you can – even if you can’t afford it – and judge every other example you see against that car.”

If registered to bid, you can go and see a car before the auction and even take it for a test drive. And don’t be afraid to ask questions: the auction house is meant to be staffed with experts.

But the most important thing to remember is funds. Set a budget and stick to it absolutely. Make sure you’ve factored in everything, not just the buyer’s premium. “Auction houses levy charges for collection and storage of lots that are not taken away by their new owners immediately,” warns Schofield.

Survive your first classic car auction

People bid for a Shelby Daytona Coupe at a Mecum auction. © Mecum Auction Company

Thrill of the Moment

Haynes says that first-time bidders need to remember that an auction is designed to drive the greatest price possible for a car and plenty of sales are organized to get people excited and pumped up: “It can be a very charged atmosphere and the buildup can be like being in a stadium for a football match waiting for the kickoff.”

That’s why Schofield says you must stay alert. “You must be aware of what’s happening in the room. At Bonhams, we aim to sell 30 vehicles an hour – so don’t wave to a friend, it could be a very expensive gesture!”

Watch out too for what Haynes calls the perfect storm. “It’s when there are two or three people in the room that feel exactly the same way that you do about a car. That’s when they all start bidding against each other and occasionally cars can go for very big money.”

The final point to remember is that all sales are final. If you buy a car at auction and then have a change of heart, there is nothing you can do about it. “There is no ‘cooling-off’ period. Once the auctioneer drops the hammer, a contract is made,” says Schofield.

So, research, view the lot, ask questions, set a budget, be aware of what’s happening in the room and be absolutely certain that it’s what you want, and everything will be fine.

classic cars Japanese models 1967 Toyota 2000GT

Classic Cars: Do Japanese Models Qualify?

The short answer is no, Japanese automakers didn’t produce anything noteworthy prior to WWII, which is what properly classic cars have to be but if we expand this to “modern” classics then the answer might be very different. Hold on, you might say. Who made these rules anyway, and isn’t modern classic a contradiction? Well, read on and find out for yourself.

The classic car establishment used to turn its nose up at things like Nissan Skylines and Datsun 240Z coupés but could the tide be turning for modern Japanese classics and will they soon sit in collections alongside 1970s Ferraris and 80s Porsches?

When the Beaulieu (the British National Motor Museum) opened its gates for a Simply Japanese rally on the last weekend of July, it attracted 1,248 cars, 35 different owners clubs and 2500 visitors.

Yet when it comes to events like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, a pristine Japanese car will be a rare sight indeed on the impeccably manicured lawns among the Bugattis and Mercedes.

classic cars Japanese models 1973 Datsun 240Z Coupé

A 1973 Datsun 240Z Coupé © David Newhardt, Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

“There are no pre-war Japanese classics, as such,” explains Peter Haynes from the RM Sotheby’s auction house. The oldest concours events still adhere to the rule that only cars built before WWII are genuine classics.

However, even with the rise of the ‘modern classic’ – think 1950s and 60s Ferraris – Japanese cars have been unfairly overlooked, until now.

“There was a kind of snobbishness but there definitely is a change. Japanese cars of a sexy, sporty nature began to emerge in the 1960s and certainly really came into prominence in the 1970s and 80s,” says Haynes.

It started with the Toyota 2000GT, launched in 1967. “That car has been making $1 million or close to it for a number of years at US auctions,” Haynes points out. And now other cars are starting to find themselves in the same auction catalogues.

This is partly due to people finally accepting that a cool car is a cool car, but part of it is a new generation of collectors.

classic cars Japanese models 1973 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R

A 1973 Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R © Newspress

The lure of nostalgia

Pre-war cars are considered classics because when the classic market first started booming that’s what collectors were buying – the exotic cars of their childhood.

“Those people are no longer with us,” says Haynes. “If you look at buyers at an auction now they are in their 40s and 50s and 60s and they are people of a different era and so are the cars they covet.”

The 2000GT will remain the gold standard because of its rarity – 350 built – but a quick look through the Bonham’s, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co and Mecum catalogues (the four auction houses hosting Monterey auctions during Pebble Beach) will show a growing choice of 1960s, 70s and even 80s modern Japanese classics in amongst the 1960s Ferraris and 1970s Porsches.

“Early [Nissan] Skylines are becoming desirable and even some of the sort of more utilitarian stuff like the [Toyota] Land Cruiser. They’re highly regarded and go for pretty big money,” says Haynes. “Whatever snobbishness may have existed, I think that it’s going – look at the Datsun 240Z. People are finally looking at it as a car and saying that it is a really great looking car…They are finally being perceived as desirable and the values will continue to grow.”

classic cars Japanese models The Toyota Land Cruiser J40 1960-1984

Toyota Land Cruiser J40 1960-1984

Rare Mahler Score Exhibited in Hong Kong

Rare Mahler Score Exhibited in Hong Kong

A rare musical score written by classical great Gustav Mahler went on show in Hong Kong Wednesday ahead of a landmark auction by Sotheby’s. It just might be the world’s most expensive musical manuscript.

The hand-written complete version of Mahler’s lauded “Resurrection Symphony” will go on sale in London later in the year with a £3.5 million ($4.5 million) price tag — the highest ever estimate for a musical manuscript, according to the auction house.

The 19th century Austrian composer and conductor wrote 10 symphonies, but Sotheby’s said none had ever gone under the hammer in its entirety.

“No complete symphony by Mahler, written in the composer’s own hand, has ever been offered at auction, and probably none will be offered again,” said Simon Maguire, senior specialist in books and manuscripts at the auction house.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a manuscript of truly outstanding historical importance.”

Fans viewed the 232-page exhibit Wednesday at Sotheby’s central gallery in Hong Kong.

Among the first visitors Wednesday was Anthony Cheng, co-founder of the Mahler Society of Hong Kong, who said the complete set was made particularly rare because it has Mahler’s conducting notes written across the margins.

“It’s not easy to see a complete symphony written by him or the complete set (like) we can see here,” he told AFP, adding that he believed the manuscript would hit its asking price at auction.

“Mahler is the bridge between late romantic music and 20th Century music… and his influence is still felt in the 21st Century today,” he said. “He is an icon in both conducting and composing.”

Sotheby’s said the manuscript was being offered by the estate of the American economist and businessman Gilbert Kaplan, who became “infatuated” by the work, also known as Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.

Kaplan went on to conduct the symphony himself with some of the world’s greatest orchestras before his death in January this year.

Top Auction Sales 2015 vs 2016

Stellar auction results from last year and this year continue to inspire confidence in luxury goods as an investment class but a slowdown is definitely underway. The 2016 Knight Frank Report released earlier this year observes that its own Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) rose by 7% in 2015 compared with a 5% drop in the FTSE 100 equities index (Brexit will make the FTSE a less-than-useful gauge next year). The report also notes that classic cars are the strongest performer (+17%) while furniture is in the red (-6%); these figures represent price changes over the course of 12 months to Q4 2015.

This year has been confusing for us to report on so we thought we would bring you the Knight Frank selection of top lots at auction in 2015 (scroll to the bottom), while noting some strangeness and a string of disappointments. The strangeness here is the record-breaking sale of the 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti, which auction house Artcurial moved for $35 million (pictured top). At the time, various sources (ourselves included) reported that it was the most expensive car ever sold at auction but, due to currency volatility, this has been thrown into doubt.

As the Knight Frank report notes, the 2014 Bonhams sale of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sold for $38 million so retains the USD record; the 1957 Scag holds the Euro record at 32.075 million. At 2014 exchange rates, the Scag would have beaten the Berlinetta but not so today. We are now in the position of having two Ferrari claimants to the throne of most expensive car ever sold at auction! The failure of the Ferrari 275 NART Spider to sell in May brought some clarity to the current situation, with experts from every auction house anticipating and warning of a slowdown in Ferrari auction prices and, consequently, in the entire classic car segment.

Look no further than the top lots sold to date for some context. All-time highs were recorded in 2015 for Jaguar ($13.2 million), Porsche ($10.1 million) and McLaren ($13.75 million). The best result we have for this year to-date is the aforementioned Scag, with everything else failing to even register on the newsworthiness scale. This explains why you may not have read anything about impressive auction sales recently.

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

Picasso’s $179 Million ‘Les Femmes d’Algers’

In the world of art, Picasso’s Women of Algiers remains the best performer at auction to date, selling for $179.3 million in May, 2015. Records thus far in this year include personal-bests for Jean Michel Basquiat (57.3 million) and Frida Kahlo ($17.2 million), far below last year’s stars Modigliani ($170 million) and Twombly ($70.5 million).

Diamonds also lost their sparkle in 2016, with the Lesedi la Rona failing to sell this year. Given that this is second largest diamond ever mined, its failure to find a buyer (Sotheby’s estimated $70 million but the final bid was $61 million) is lamentable. Nevertheless, the success of blue diamonds at auction last year continues to fuel hope for the colored diamonds subset. As long as Hong Kong tycoon Joseph Lau keeps buying these, prices look to stay rock-steady.

The Lesedi la Rona diamond from Botswana.

The Lesedi la Rona diamond from Botswana.

Knight Frank 2015 Auction Stand Out Sales

Picasso: Women of Algiers ($179,300,000 – sold by Christie’s, May 2015)

Marc Newson: Lockheed Lounge ($3,700,400 – sold by Phillips, April 2015)

Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight ($13,200,000 – sold by Sotheby’s, August 2015)

Patek Philippe Doctor’s Chronograph ($4,987,383 – sold by Phillips, May 2015)

Blue Moon of Josephine 12 carat blue diamond ($48,400,000 – sold by Sotheby’s, November 2015)