A celebrated masterpiece by Pablo Picasso has sold at Sotheby’s auction house in London for £25.2 million ($40,5 million), more than double its pre-auction valuation.
“La Lecture” is a work from the Spanish painter’s “annus mirabilis,” 1932, and depicts the artist’s famous muse, Marie-Therese Walter.
Seven bidders vied for the coveted Picasso work, the hammer eventually coming down after six minutes of bidding to finalise the sale to an anonymous phone buyer.
A Chinese face or two in the crowd at the world’s auction houses often means one thing: the gavel will fall on a price far beyond the seller’s wildest dreams.
Fierce bidding by Chinese buyers for a vase at a small London auctioneer in November, for example, drove the price up nearly 40 times beyond its estimate, from around $1.9 million to $70 million.
It was the highest price ever paid for a Chinese artwork sold at auction and equivalent to a huge lottery win for the sellers, who found the 18th Century Qianlong Emperor-era piece while clearing out a house after a relative died.
A sumptuous painting of the Madonna and child by Renaissance master Titian sold for a record $16,882,500 Thursday in New York.
The Sotheby’s auction easily broke a 20-year-old record of $13.6 million for a Titian.
The painting, “A Sacra Conversazione: The Madonna and Child with Saints Luke and Catherine of Alexandria,” depicts the Virgin Mary and the two saints posed around a chubby infant Jesus as he stretches out his left hand.
A rare copy of John James Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ set a new world record for a printed book at auction Tuesday, selling for 7.3 million pounds in London.
The four-volume book was subject to competitive bidding on the phones and in Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries, and sold for 7,321,250 pounds.
Originally estimated to sell for between four and six million pounds, the book was bought by London dealer Michael Tollemache.
A bracelet owned by Wallis Simpson, whose affair with Edward VIII led to his abdication, has sold for a world record-breaking Â£4.5m ($7m) at auction.
The diamond panther bracelet, was sold by Sothebyâ€™s. It was the most expensive bracelet and most expensive Cartier item to be sold at any auction.
It was one of 20 pieces owned by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to go under the hammer in the sale, which raised a total of Â£7,975,550 ($12,417,369m).
A rare pink diamond that is regarded as one of the most desirable and beautiful in the world was sold for a record 46.16 million dollars on Tuesday.
Sothebyâ€™s had valued the 24.78 carat Fancy Intense Pink diamond mounted on a ring at 27 million to 38 million dollars ahead of the sale in a luxury lakeside hotel.
But intense bidding wiped out the record of over 24 million dollars set during an auction in December 2008 in the sale of a grey-blue diamond Wittelsbach.
An Andy Warhol canvas of a black-and-white Coke bottle has sold for $35.36m at an auction in New York.
Sotheby’s said Coca-Cola  (Large Coca-Cola) “is a landmark in the artist’s creation of his pop art style”.
Organizers reportedly whet the appetite of live bidders by serving small bottles of soda pop as guests mingled ahead of the New York sale.
A painting of a nude by Amedeo Modigliani fetched nearly 69 million dollars at a Sotheby’s auction in New York, setting a new record for the Italian painter.
The circa 1917 canvas, titled “Nu assis sur un divan (La Belle Romaine),” had been estimated before the auction to go for more than 40 million dollars.
Five bidders on Tuesday competed over what Sotheby’s called the “iconic” and “stunning nude,” driving the final price to 68,962,500 dollars.
The massive sale highlighted the first of the autumn art auctions in New York at Sotheby’s and rival Christie’s, with both houses predicting a surge in demand.
Three bottles of Chateau Lafiteâ€™s 1869 vintage each sold for a record price of HK$1.8 million ($230,000) at a sale in Hong Kong last saturday.
All three were bought by the same Asian telephone bidder, said Sothebyâ€™s, which offered almost 2,000 bottles of Lafite shipped directly from the cellars of the chateau in Pauillac, near Bordeaux.
The 1869s – the oldest bottles in a range of vintages that spanned 139 years – were each estimated to sell for between HK$40,000 and HK$60,000.
An exceptinally rare pink stone is set to break the record for being the world’s most expensive diamond ever.
The pink stone is estimated to be worth $27-38 million when it goes under the hammer on November 16 at Sothebyâ€™s in Geneva
It is classified as ‘fancy intense pink’ – the most perfect pink colour – by the Gemological Institute of America, and is set between shield-shaped diamond shoulders on a silver ring.
A rare copy of the most expensive book in the world, John James Audubon’s â€œBirds of America,â€ will be up for sale at Sothebyâ€™s in London on December 7.
Only 119 copies are confirmed to exist, of which 108 are in libraries, universities, and museums. One copy is worth $6.73 million to $10.1 million.
It contains 1,000 life-sized illustrations of almost 500 breeds. It took wildlife artist John James Audubon 12 years to complete his study.
Artwork from the European branches of the collapsed US investment bank Lehman Brothers will go under the hammer in London next month in a two-million-pound auction, administrators said Sunday.
Works by Lucian Freud and Gary Hume will figure at the sale at Christie’s auction house on September 29, which comes two years after the bank’s demise.
“We think that there are many people around the world who would like to acquire some art with a Lehman connection,” said administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Sotheby’s says it is auctioning about 3 million pounds worth of jewelry once owned by Wallis Simpson, the American socialite who became Duchess of Windsor.
Britain’s King Edward VIII, who renounced his claim to the British throne in 1936 to marry the divorcee, showered her with gifts of jewellery throughout their courtship and marriage.
The pieces on sale include a Cartier heart-shaped emerald, ruby and diamond brooch (above) commissioned in 1957 to mark their 20th wedding anniversary.
A view over Rome painted by artist JMW Turner was sold for 29.7 million pounds in London, setting a new record at auction for the British master.
“Modern Rome — Campo Vaccino” was bought Wednesday for the equivalent of 44.9 million dollars at Sotheby’s by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
The previous auction record for a Turner work was 20.5 million pounds, which was set by “Giudecca, La Donne della Salute and San Giorgio” in April 2006.
A self-portrait by Edouard Manet sold for 22.4 million pounds ($33 million) at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday.
It was the highest price paid for a picture by Manet. The previous record for a Manet was 16 million pounds at a sale in New York in 1989.
The oil on canvas work is in somber tones and shows the bearded artist wearing a bowler hat with a paint brush in hand.
The original handwritten lyrics for the hit Beatles song “A Day in the Life” was sold at a Sotheby’s auction Friday for 1.2 million dollars.
Bidding for the manuscript shot past expectations to reach 1,202,500 dollars. Sotheby’s had expected a final price of between 500,000 and 700,000 dollars.
The single sheet of paper has lyrics on both sides, in John Lennon’s handwriting.
The song was the final cut on the band’s eighth studio album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” released in 1967.
A late self-portrait by “pope of pop” Andy Warhol sold for a record 32.5 million dollars at Sotheby’s in New York on Wednesday.
The stark 1986 image of Warhol’s famous face and unkempt hair was estimated to sell at between 10-15 million at the contemporary art auction.
The huge final sale value was in line with the strong demand for Warhols shown at the contemporary art auction at rival Christie’s in Manhattan on Tuesday.
The Sotheby’s sale was the highest price paid for a self-portrait by the iconoclastic artist, who died a year after the work was completed.
A rare 5.16-carat blue diamond sold at auction for $6.4 million in Hong Kong on Wednesday, confirming Asia’s fast-growing taste for the precious stone.
London’s famed Moussaieff Jewellers paid more than the $5.9 million expected price tag for the pear-shaped stone, the first blue diamond from the celebrated De Beers Millennium Jewels Collection to appear at auction.
The De Beers Millennium Collection, displayed in London’s Millennium Dome in 2000, comprised 12 rare gems and took decades to assemble.
â€œItâ€™s a bargain and I got it at this price because everyone was asleep,â€ Moussaieff said in an interview.
Her London-based boutique will change the gemâ€™s mounting and offer the stone â€œto discerning clients, possibly in Asia,â€ she said.
In a bold recognition of the world’s fastest-growing auction market, Sotheby’s recently hoisted China‘s flag at the most conspicuous spot outside its New York headquarters.
The flag now flies between those of the US, UK, France, and Switzerland, where the auction house has established its core client base.
“We proposed it. To my great surprise, not only was the Chinese flag hoisted, it was hoisted in the middle,” Kevin Ching, chief executive officer of Sotheby’s in Asia, told AFP.
Hong Kong has become the world’s third largest auction hub after New York and London, thanks to the rising political and economic prowess of China.
China is expected to be the world’s seventh largest wine consumer by 2013 as the nation’s thirst for vintages continues to grow amid an economic boom.
The country will consume around 1.26 billion bottles of wine in 2013, an increase of about 32 percent from 2009, according to findings of Vinexpo, organiser of one of the world’s largest wine and spirits exhibitions.
China was the eighth largest wine consumer last year, behind leader Italy, France and the United States in the top three spots.