Highly-valued Craftsmanships – The Latest Top Bids in the Auction World
A piece of painting, an automobile or anything that has an interesting story and history to it always becomes a priced possession and dominates in the auction world. To add to it, if the bidding item is completed with great craftsmanship, it is always bought for millions.
Woman sculptor inspired by ancient poem
Camille Claudel’s L’Abandon sold for £831,600 (about US$1.01 million) at a Christie’s sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in London, beating out two sculptures by Auguste Rodin, briefly her collaborator and lover, for the auction top spot. Cast in bronze by Eugène Blot in 1905, the work is hailed as the French figurative sculptor’s breakthrough. Born in Fère-en-Tardenois, a rural village between Paris and Reims, Claudel’s mother told her any desires to become an artist were ‘unladylike’. Her father, however, presented some of her early work to a neighbour: the sculptor Alfred Boucher. Impressed, he became the girl’s mentor, and following his advice, the family moved to Paris in 1881. Claudel enrolled at the Académie Colarossi – a progressive art school that admitted women. In 1886, she began working on L’Abandon, a sculpture of an embracing couple inspired by the ancient Sanskrit poem Sakuntala. Exhibited in plaster at the 1888 Salon des Artistes Français, it won an honourable mention. The critic André Michel praised its “profound feeling of tenderness both chaste and passionate, an impression of quivering, of restrained ardour”
Italian dining furniture attracts huge bid
A magnificent Italian ormolu, white marble and semi-precious hardstone-inlaid centre table went for a healthy US$1.5 million at the widely-anticipated auction of Modern Medici: Masterpieces from a New York Collection held by Christie’s. One of the sale’s shining highlights, this bejewelled piece of furniture is a prime example of early 19th-century Italian craftsmanship – an elegantly sculptured base expertly rendered in gilt bronze with a rich combination of chased and burnished surfaces, paired with a marble top inlaid with glorious coloured stones. The latter, circa 1800-1810, is the handiwork of Roman mosaicist Giacomo Raffaelli. Assessing the appeal of this rare lot, William Strafford, Christie’s Deputy Chairman, European Furniture and Decorative Arts, said: “The spectacular table is a fine embodiment of the art of pietra dura and sculptural gilt-bronzes. Its eye-catching top is inset throughout with rare samples of semi-precious hardstones, an attribute that saw the table hugely admired during an exhibition dedicated to this exquisite collection. We were thrilled that it was one of two lots that fetched the highest prices of the sale, selling for US$1.5 million to an anonymous buyer.
Happy ending for looted Kandinsky
A bid of US$44.9 million at a recent Sotheby’s sale scooped up a masterpiece by Wassily Kandinsky, representing a new auction record for the artist. The painting, Murnau mit Kirche II (Murnau with Church II), originates from 1920 and encapsulates the beginnings of the revolutionary abstract language that would underpin the rest of Kandinsky’s career. The work was recently returned to the descendants of its rightful owners, the Berlin art collectors Siegbert and Johanna Margarethe Stern; Johanna died at Auschwitz in 1944. Auction proceeds are to be shared between the 13 surviving Stern heirs and used to fund further research into the fate of their family collection. Lucian Simmons, Vice Chairman and Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Restitution said: “This year marks the 25th anniversary of the conference, held in Washington, D.C., that first established the ground rules for the restitution of artworks looted by the Nazis during the Second World War. Since then, Sotheby’s Restitution Department has worked with many heirs and families to reunite them with their stolen property and, at the same time, to help re-tell their stories and celebrate their lives.”
Frenzied bidding for last-of-its-kind supercar
A Bugatti Chiron Profilée, the last W16-powered car available from the famed French automotive atelier, has gone for nearly 9.8 million euros (about US$10.7 million), making it the most valuable new car ever sold at auction. It was the last possible opportunity to buy a new Bugatti powered by the legendary W16 engine – the only 16-cylinder engine in the world to be used in a car. With such an important piece of Bugatti history at stake, bidding was fierce. Marcus Görig, Car Specialist at RM Sotheby’s, said: “It was an honour for us to host this very special lot in collaboration with Bugatti. The sale of the Chiron Profilée was one of the most anticipated moments of the whole auction. With enormous global interest in the car, the Profilée attracted considerable attention at the auction among bidders and curious viewers who had visited to have a glimpse of this unique car.” Designed as a more radical version of the Chiron Sport, the Profilée took its name from one of Jean Bugatti’s first creations – a specific Type 46 model known as Surprofilée, with a sleeker silhouette and an elegant sweeping tail.