Tag Archives: Sotheby’s

Meiyintang Chenghua Chicken Cup

Small Chinese cup sells for $36 million

Meiyintang Chenghua Chicken Cup

A rare Ming-era wine cup broke the world auction record for any Chinese porcelain on Tuesday, selling in Hong Kong for $36.05 million (HK$281 million) to Shanghai tycoon Liu Yiqian, Sotheby’s auction house said.

The tiny white porcelain cup, decorated with a colour painting of a rooster and a hen tending to their chicks, was made during the reign of the Chenghua Emperor between 1465 and 1487.

Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, described the cup as the “holy grail” of Chinese art. “There is no more legendary object in the history of Chinese porcelain. This is an object bathed in mythology.”

The chicken cup represents the pinnacle of Ming-era porcelain production. That period in terms of porcelain production was really the peak of material refinement. Emperors of later Chinese dynasties were so enamoured by the design that the chicken cup was copied extensively.

“When you buy a chicken cup… you don’t just buy the object, you’re buying centuries of imperial admiration for these objects,” he said.

Pink Star diamond

Sotheby’s forced to take back huge pink diamond

Sotheby’s says an enormous diamond known as The Pink Star is back in its possession after the buyer couldn’t pay for the jewel and defaulted.

Pink Star diamond

New York-based diamond cutter Isaac Wolf outbid 3 rivals to pay $83 million for the flawless pink diamond in an auction guaranteed by Sotheby’s.

But on Thursday, the auction house said it has reversed the related commission revenue on the sale as a result of the buyer’s default and has recorded the pink diamond in its inventory at a value of about $72 million.

“We are currently in discussions with the buyer, while also considering other alternatives,” Patrick McClymont, Sotheby’s CFO said. “In the meantime, we are quite comfortable with our valuation, and see real value in owning the diamond at this price.”

Sotheby’s said the price fetched in Geneva for the 59.60-carat pink diamond was the highest ever paid for a gemstone at auction.

Sotheby’s still holds the world record price for a diamond sale, even after the default. In November 2010 the auction house sold another pink diamond – the 24.78-carat “Graff Pink” – for $46m in another auction in Geneva.

Macallan M decanter

The Macallan M becomes world’s most expensive whisky

Sotheby’s said it sold a bottle of Macallan for HK$4.9 million ($630,000) in Hong Kong, setting a record for the most expensive bottle of single malt whisky sold at auction.

Macallan M decanter

The Macallan “M” decanter is a collaboration between The Macallan whisky, Lalique crystal and Fabien Baron founder of Baron & Baron, it was sold to benefit several Hong Kong charities.

The Macallan ‘M’ Decanter 6-litre Imperiale attracted global interest at a Sotheby’s auction, the firm said in a statement which identified the buyer only as an Asian private collector.

The former British colony has become a hub for auctions of collectibles and rare items ranging from diamonds to stamps, thanks to growing wealth in China and other parts of Asia.

Only four Imperiale “M” Decanters were ever made by the Macallan distillery, Sotheby’s said.



$1mn Picasso yours for just $135

Still stumped for a Christmas present? Then what about an exquisite $1 million Picasso for the living room, yours for just $135 at an online charity raffle.

The perfectly preserved Cubist gouache was bought by an anonymous donor from a New York gallery and given to a charity working to save the ancient city of Tyre in southern Lebanon.


The UNESCO-registered charity has issued 50,000 tickets at 100 euros ($135) each for the first-of-its-kind tombola on December 18 at Sotheby’s in Paris, hoping to raise $5 million.

It wants the money to develop a traditional handicraft village giving young people, women and the disabled jobs in Tyre and to set up an institute for Phoenician studies in Beirut.

Olivier Picasso

Hopefuls have snapped up 40,000 tickets already and Olivier Picasso, Pablo’s grandson, is in New York to drum up interest in the remaining 10,000. People from all over the world have gone online to buy just one or a handful of tickets at www.1picasso100euros.com.

Olivier, who says he has many Picassos of his own, described the signed “L’Homme au Gibus” or “Man in the Opera Hat,” painted in 1914, as a “masterpiece” of museum standard in perfect condition.

1964 Ferrari 250 LM

Ferrari 250 LM Sells for Record $14.3 Million

1964 Ferrari 250 LM

A 1964 Ferrari 250 LM has sold for a record $14.3 million at the RM Auctions & Sotheby’s collaborative auction held in New York. It becomes the third most expensive Ferrari ever sold at auction.

It may take some doing to dislodge the car currently in first place, Fangio’s 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Single-Seater, which sold in July for an incredible $29,650,095. Still, this Ferrari 250 LM, of which only 32 were ever built, is viewed as equally special to Prancing Horse aficionados.

It was the first Ferrari to use a mid-engine layout meaning that Mr Scaglietti could ‘go crazy’ with the body shell design, wrapping the panels round the shorter body and creating the Ferrari design principles that persist to this day.

And that engine, a 320-horsepower V12, was a technological and engineering marvel, blitzing the competition. All of which explains why the final price paid make the car the fourth most expensive in history — just behind two other Ferraris — a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider which sold this year for $27.5 million and a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype which fetched $16.39 million in 2011.

These prices may sound incredible and suggest that a classic car bubble is about to burst, but the truth is that the prices paid at auction are usually much lower than those paid in private and brokered sales.

The Ferrari 250 GTO is the ultimate classic collectors’ car yet it never gets a chance to get as far as an auction and as a result they regularly change hands for upwards of $40 million.

So, as of today, the Top 10 most expensive cars ever sold at auction are:

1. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Single-Seater $29,650,095.
2. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider $27,500,000.
3. 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype $16,390,000.
4. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Carrozzeria Scaglietti $14,300,000.
5. 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta ‘Competizione’ $12,812,800.
6. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa $12,402,500.
7. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster $11,770,000.
8. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione $11,275,000.
9. 1968 Ford GT40 $11,000,000.
10. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder $10,894,400.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Pieces To Go on Auction at (RED) Auction

Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos 561 by Marc Newson clock

Jaeger-LeCoultre has created two custom watches set to be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York City for the RED campaign to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Ready to go under the hammer on November 23, both the Atmos 561 by Marc Newson clock and the Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea watch have been given special red color accents for the auction.

The Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea was remade as a tribute to the legendary diver’s watch from 1959. The luxury watch features a red dial and the RED logo engraved on the case-back.

The Atmos 561 was customized by Sir Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson and sports red accents on the hands, the month indication and the calibre’s logo, as well as a RED and Marc Newson logo on the back

Other luxury items in the sale include a red Hermès riding saddle (estimated at $100,000 – $150,000) and a pair of bespoke Christian Louboutin studded boots (estimated at $20,000 – $30,000).

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea

Pink Star diamond

‘Pink Star’ diamond auctioned for record $83 million

Pink Star diamond

A plum-sized diamond known as the “Pink Star” was auctioned in Geneva Wednesday for $83 million, a world record for a gemstone. The diamond had been estimated at $60 million.

Three years ago, Sotheby’s set an auction record of $46.2 million for a diamond when it sold the “Graff Pink” gemstone. The Sotheby’s auction came a day after rival house Christie’s sold an almond-shaped diamond dubbed “The Orange” for $35.5 million, also a record in its category.

The 59.60-carat “Pink Star” is the largest in its class ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), with the second biggest less than half its size.

The sparkling oval-cut rock measures 2.69 by 2.06 centimetres (1.06 by 0.81 inches), and weighs 11.92 grammes (0.026 pounds).

In addition to its top colour and clarity ratings, it falls into a rare subgroup with the purest diamond crystals and extraordinary optical transparency, comprising less than two percent of all gem diamonds.

The “Pink Star” was 132.5 carats in the rough when it was mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, according to Sotheby’s, which has not said which country it came from.

It was cut and polished over two years by Steinmetz Diamonds, and unveiled to the public in 2003 under the title of the “Steinmetz Pink”.

The near-translucent rock was renamed after it was first sold four years later for an undisclosed sum to an unidentified buyer. Sotheby’s declined to name the seller in Wednesday’s auction, nor would it say whether the gemstone had been bought and sold again since 2007.

magnificent white oval diamond

White diamond fetches record $30.6 million at HK auction

white oval diamond

A 118.28-carat white diamond broke a world record Monday when it fetched more than $30 million at a Hong Kong auction. The sparkling translucent stone was sold to a phone bidder at the Sotheby’s auction for HK$238.68 million ($30.6 million) following bidding that lasted for more than six minutes.

The egg-shaped stone has been described as the finest of its kind ever to appear at auction. Earlier estimates valued it at $28-$35 million.

The stone, dubbed the “Magnificent Oval Diamond”, was discovered in a deep mine in an undisclosed southern African country in 2011. As a rough stone before being cut, it weighed 299 carats.

The stone, described by Sotheby’s as “the largest D colour flawless diamond”, has been given the highest quality rating awarded by the Gemological Institute of America.

The Bay Psalm Book

First printed book in America to be auctioned

Bay Psalm Book

A translation of Biblical psalms that was the first book ever printed in what became the United States goes on auction this November, with an expected price tag of $15-30 million.

The book is one of the best of the 11 surviving copies of “The Bay Psalm Book,” which Puritan settlers from England printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640 — before the United States even existed.

The settlers, who were seeking religious freedom, wanted chiefly to issue their own preferred translation from the Hebrew original of the Old Testament book, rather than the one they had brought across the Atlantic.

However, the volume took on even greater significance, David Redden, the head of Sotheby’s books, said. “‘The Bay Psalm Book’ was not only the first book printed in America, and the first book written in America. This little book of 1640 was precursor to Lexington and Concord, and, ultimately, to American political independence. With it, New England declared its independence from the Church of England.”

Selby Kiffer, with Sotheby’s special projects department, called “The Bay Psalm Book” “not simply one of the great icons of book history, it is one of the greatest artifacts of American history.”

No copy from the edition has appeared at auction since 1947, when a different copy fetched $151K, a record at the time for any book, including the Gutenberg Bible or Shakespeare’s First Folio.

“‘The Bay Psalm Book’ is a mythical rarity. Unseen on the marketplace for more than two generations, it has become too rare to collect,” Redden said.

The book is being sold by the Old South Church in Boston to benefit its work in the historic city’s area, Sotheby’s said. The same church possesses another copy of the “Bay Psalm Book.”

The Bay Psalm Books

Ruby Ground Falangcai Double Lotus Bowl

Chinese bowl sells at Sotheby’s for record $9.5 million

Chinese bowl Sothebys

A rare red “lotus bowl” from the Chinese emperor Kangxi period of 1662-1722 has been sold for an eye-popping $9.5 million at a Hong Kong sale, auction house Sotheby’s said.

The price set a new world record for any Chinese porcelain from the Kangxi period during the Qing dynasty after it was bought by a Hong Kong ceramics dealer for HK$74 million ($9.5 million) Monday.

The ruby-ground “falangcai” bowl decorated with pink, yellow and blue lotuses was originally expected to fetch HK$70 million at the sale, part of Sotheby’s six-day spring sale in Hong Kong.

The auctioneer said the bowl broke a previous Qing Kangxi porcelain record in 2006, when a blue and white “Dragon” vase was sold for HK$22.52 million.

red Chinese bowl

Patek Philippe Clock Fetches $2.3 Million

Patek Philippe The Magpie Treasure Nest Clock

An intricate Patek Philippe clock decorated with diamonds and rubies achieved $2.3 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong this weekend.

Made in 1992, the 52-centimeter (20.5 inch) high clock weighs 15.1 kilograms (33.2 pounds), with 24.95 carats of diamonds, 6.02 carats of sapphires, rubies weighing 13.17 carats and one oval tanzanite weighing 104.75 carats according to the Sotheby’s catalogue.

Chef jacket signed by Ferran Adria

Sotheby’s to Auction Dinner with elBulli Chef

chef Ferran Adria

Auction house Sotheby’s is offering the highest bidder at an upcoming wine auction the chance to enjoy a dinner prepared by legendary chef Ferran Adrià himself.

It’s the latest addition to a hotly anticipated wine auction to be held in Hong Kong and New York next month when El Bulli — which has held on to the title of best restaurant in the world five times by “Restaurant” magazine — sells off its wine cellar.

The opening bid for a dinner with Adrià at his Barcelona restaurant Tickets, which he co-runs with brother Albert, starts at $5,000.

Other lots that have been added to the wine sell-off include a chance to snatch various bits of El Bulli memorabilia, including four chefs’ jackets signed by Adrià, a set of El Bulli knives, menus, wine lists, and El Bulli stationery.

Many of the lots for sale are also one-of-a-kind bespoke pieces designed specifically to help execute and serve Adrià’s avant-garde cuisine. Examples include baroque and corrugated trays and crockery for his signature spherical olives.

8,800 bottles of wine, all of which will bear an El Bulli sticker and some of which will be signed by Adrià and restaurant partner Juli Soler, will be auctioned off April 3 in Hong Kong and April 26 in New York.

The highest value lot includes a trio of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Romanée Conti 1990, which is estimated to bring in $32,500 to $47,500.

Chef jacket signed by Ferran Adria

Chinese Bowl

$3 tag sale find sells at Sotheby’s for $2.23 million

Chinese Bowl

A $3 tag sale buy has turned into a massive windfall for the lucky bargain hunter: the Chinese bowl sold for $2.23 million at an auction at Sotheby’s on Tuesday.

The small pottery bowl, finely crafted with an ivory glaze, turned out to be a thousand year old “Ding” bowl, dating from the Song dynasty, which ruled China from 960 to 1279. The only other similar bowl from the period known to exist has been on display at the British Museum for more than 60 years.

After picking it up for a few dollars down the road in 2007, the buyer displayed it the living room. More recently, they became curious about its value and brought it to experts for an appraisal. Sotheby’s had estimated the bowl would sell for between $200,000 and $300,000.

But four bidders battled over the rare find, and it ultimately sold to renowned London art dealer Giuseppe Eshenazi for $2.225 million.

Femme assise pres dune fenetre

Picasso lover portrait sells for £28.6 mn in London

picasso auction sothebys

A portrait of Pablo Picasso‘s lover Marie-Therese Walter sold in London on Tuesday night for £28.6 million ($45.0 million), Sotheby’s auction house said.

The colourful and curvaceous “Femme assise pres d’une fenetre” (Woman sitting by a window), painted in 1932, was sold to an anonymous telephone buyer.

The painting was the star lot in Tuesday’s impressionist, modern and surrealist art sale, achieving the top price in an auction that netted a total of £121 million.

Picasso met his famous muse Marie-Therese Walter in Paris in 1927, when she was 17 and he was 45. Their relationship was kept secret for many years because of her youth and Picasso’s marriage to the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova.

The affair was revealed in 1932 when portraits of Walter were displayed for the first time alongside other Picasso works in a major retrospective, and Khokhlova realised there was another woman in her husband’s life.

Walter, who inspired several of Picasso’s works including “La Lecture”, “La Reve” and “Nature morte aux tulipes”, bore the Spanish artist a daughter, Maya.

Another portrait of Walter from the same series, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust”, held the record for the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction when it was bought for $106.4 million in 2010.

Femme assise pres d une fenetre

Beau Sancy diamond

Historic diamond ‘Beau Sancy’ sells for $9.7 million

Beau Sancy diamond

A centuries-old diamond passed down through generations of European royalty fetched nine million Swiss francs ($9.7 million) at auction in Geneva on Tuesday.

The 34.98-carat “Beau Sancy” diamond measures 2.3 centimetres in height, is 1.9 cm wide and 1.1 cm deep.

Passed down through the royal families of France, England, Prussia and the Netherlands, the Beau de Sancy has witnessed 400 years of European history.
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sothebys champagne bottle

Sotheby’s launches in-house champagne brand

sothebys champagne bottle

Sotheby’s has launched its own private-label champagne, the first from an auction house. A bottle costs $29.99 and a magnum $69.95.

The bubbly is being produced by sixth-generation French champagne house R & L Legras, which supplies many Michelin-starred restaurants such as Guy Savoy, La Tour d’Argent and Ledoyen.

The in-house brand will also be served at Sotheby’s events around the world including New York, London, and Hong Kong.
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Munch Scream

Munch’s Scream sells for record $120 million

Munch Scream

The only privately owned version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” set a world record Wednesday when it sold for $119.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York.

Heated competition between seven bidders took the price to the highest for a work of art at auction in just 12 minutes, sparking applause.

The previous record was held by Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust which sold in 2010 for $106.5 million.
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