Deep-pocketed new Asian buyers flooded the auction market, and investors sought hedges against uncertain financial instruments; bidders from Russia and other oil-rich nations made an imprint, and worldwide deep-pocketed collectors found opportunity. Together, they accounted for a lively recovery in the auction markets. Check out some highlights from our coverage during a remarkable auction year.
In May, Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” sold at Christie’s for $106.5 million, a new record for a work of art at auction, and in February, Giacometti’s “Walking Man 1” realized $104.3 at Sotheby’s in London. Headlined by Warhol, contemporary art values soared, as buyer sought works by established masters. In November, a Chinese bidder paid $69.3 million for an 18th century Qianlong vase, which had been estimated at only $1.85 million.
Back in October, three bottles of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1869 sold for $232,692 at Sotheby’s, establishing it as the world’s most expensive wine. Worldwide—fueled by Asian buyers in particular—results for wine reached new heights, Sotheby’s achieved a sell-through rate of 100% in each of its Hong Kong auctions on the way to its best year ever for wine,
At Pebble Beach in August, two vintage Ferraris and a 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 sold for over $6 million each, as Gooding & Company recorded six world records.Â In October, the “Goldfinger” Aston Martin DB5 sold for $4.6 million. International buyers showed a readiness to pay top dollar for prime vintage offerings, but proved more selective with lesser examples. In the private placement market, Gooding & Company brokered the sale of a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic for a reported $30-$40 million.
In May, a 1943 Patek Philippe Reference 1527 sold for $5.7 at Christie’s in Geneva, setting a new world record for a wristwatch. Overall, the auction house recorded its best year ever, with Asian buyers—as in other markets—providing a considerable boost.Â Sotheby’s also recorded strong results.
Books & Manuscripts
Earlier this month, an original copy of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” sold for $11.5 million, well above estimates. Also this month, Robert F. Kennedy’s copy of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln sold for a record $3,778,500, or three times its high estimate. And two Kansas basketball fans paid in excess of $4.3 million at Sotheby’s for the original typed rules of basketball, as drafted by James Naismith, a physical education teacher. Also at Sotheby’s, a flag carried by the troops of George Custer into the Battle of Little Big Horn sold for $2.2 million, at the low end of its $2-$5 million estimate.