A Rare Sight: The rarest of items that recently achieved record-breaking sums…

By Roberliza
Jul 18, 2021

The stunning HK$226.3 million Sakura Ring, Kobe Bryant’s record-breaking signed rookie jersey, a rare Ming Dynasty ceramic jar, and a masterpiece by famed panter Jean-Michel Basuiat, these are the the rarest in auction highlights that had recently achieved large sums…

gafencu auction highlights rare collectibles the sakura ring

The Sakura Ring: The largest ever pink-purple diamond fetches HK$226.3 million
Charming and ultra-elegant, fancy colour diamonds make a fashion statement while consistently increasing in value. Prices of pink diamonds, in particular, have soared at auctions in the last five years. Proof of this was seen recently at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong, when The Sakura ring set a new record for the largest purple-pink diamond ever to go under the hammer.

The 15.81-carat fancy vivid purple-pink cushion mixed-cut diamond set with half-moon diamonds on a platinum and gold ring commanded HK$226.3 million, bedazzling the previous record holder, The Spirit of the Rose, a 14.8-carat purple-pink diamond, that sold at Sotheby’s last November for US$27 million. The Sakura’s internally flawless main attraction was the largest of its ilk to be graded by the Gemological Institute of America in the past year, and it outshone the auction competition. The lots that collected second- and third-highest bids were The Sweet Heart, a unique heart-shaped coloured diamond ring, and an exclusive Diamond Pendant Necklace that fetched a cool HK$50.7 million and HK$20.7 million respectively.

gafencu auction highlights rare collectibles the sakura ring the kui dragon jar

Rare Xuande-period Kui jar fires up all collectors
When it comes to Chinese lore, the kui dragon – a symbol of power and auspiciousness – was widely used in its protective capacity to decorate the gateways and doorways of palaces and temples in the Yuan and Ming dynasties. But it did not typically grace porcelain and ceramic wares until Emperor Chenghua’s reign in the early Ming dynasty (1464-1487). This lithe, one-legged kui derives from the makara, or sea dragon, of Hindu origin and entered Chinese art with the dissemination of Buddhism.

An extremely rare Blue and White ‘Kui Dragon’ Jar of Hindu origin from the earlier Xuande period (1426-1435) was an astonishing addition to Christie’s Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 28 May. Featuring the Xuande six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle, it realised an astounding HK$31.5 million, underscoring the collectible’s cultural, artistic and historical value.

Only four such Xuande-marked jars are known to have been unearthed – three of which are in museums, while the fourth resides in the possession of a collector. The present vase had been acquired by the Shanghai-born super-collector, Robert Chang, and was sold to benefit his eponymous Art Education Charitable Foundation.

gafencu auction highlights rare collectibles the sakura ring kobe bryant's rookie jersey

Kobe Bryant’s game-worn jersey breaks all records
A week after Kobe Bryant’s posthumous induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame on 15 May, memorabilia belonging to the NBA great scored highly at auction – each coveted item is a piece of history of one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Having earned two MVP titles and five championship wins, on top of playing in the NBA All-Star Games 18 times, Bryant won over the hearts of sports fans all over the world during his 20-year career. Niche auction house, Goldin Auctions, unsurprisingly garnered much buzz for the lots offered in its May Elite sale, especially for the late star’s Rookie Jersey — his earliest-known game-worn LA Lakers shirt – which went for a whopping US$3.69 million, making it the most expensive jersey ever sold. 

Featuring Bryant’s signature on the front, the No.8 jersey has been photo-matched to four games during the 1996-97 NBA season, his rookie year, as well as his rookie photoshoot. It beat the previous priciest basketball shirt, Michael Jordan’s University of North Carolina jersey, by more than US$2 million, which fetched US$1.38 million at an auction just two weeks before.

gafencu auction highlights rare collectibles the sakura ring jean michel basuiat versus medici

Basquiat’s enigmatic ‘Versus Medici’ proves to be still relevant
Few contemporary artists enjoy the reputation of becoming a revolutionary influence and remaining relevant for decades. For Neo-expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat, however, he has managed to continue leaving his imprint on society even 30 years after his untimely passing at the age of 27. 

Basquiat first made a splash on the streets of New York with works signed ‘SAMO’ in collaboration with fellow graffiti artist Al Diaz. He then blazed a brilliant trail in the ’80s, subsequently earning his standing as one the most influential artists of the 20th century.

The career of the youngest artist to take part in Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and the youngest to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in New York, was cut short by his death from a heroin overdose in 1988. Still, his enigmatic masterpieces continue to draw praise. Versus Medici recently amassed the attention of those in attendance at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in early May. The perplexing acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on three joined canvases, which had been off the market for a decade, realised a staggering US$50.8 million, proving the artist’s raw, gestural style of painting, grafitti-like images are still relevant till now.