Top-selling collectibles: The hottest auction highlights of this spring

By Neil Dolby
Jul 27, 2023

Many valuable articles were auctioned during the recent Spring auctions and though every single object was unique in its own way, four items certainly stood out and impressed the bidders the most, thus achieving jaw-dropping hammer prices. Check out the latest roundup of auction lots that made history and the interesting stories associated with each of them.

Flawless Fancy

3 rings hold collectors in spell

spring auctions

A trio of flawless pear-shaped coloured diamonds fetched a combined total of HK$132 million (US$17 million) at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Spring Auction. Dazzling at the centre of three exquisite rings, they captivated the audience and ignited fervent bidding for more than 15 minutes.

The sale was led by a breathtaking 4.83-carat fancy vivid blue internally flawless diamond ring, for which an anonymous bidder paid an astonishing US$8.84 million. This extraordinary natural blue diamond is considered a symbol of wisdom, truth and devotion, and its exceptional rarity and vivid blue hue place it in a league of its own. The internally flawless designation emphasises the stone’s remarkable clarity and further enhanced its allure to excited bidders.

Besides this triumvirate of spellbinding coloured diamonds, Vickie Sek, Chairman of Jewellery at Christie’s Asia Pacific, was thrilled by the auction’s overall success. “Our Magnificent Jewels sale received an excellent response from collectors for the diverse selection of exquisite colourless and coloured diamonds and gemstones presented, with almost half of these lots selling above their high estimates,” she said.

Dragon High

Qianlong moonflask shines at auction

spring auctions

An extremely rare Qianlong moonflask was the highlight of Christie’s ‘The Imperial Palette – Three Qianlong Treasures’ auction held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Bidders were impressed by this extraordinary Chinese craftsmanship such that the final sale price topped HK$108 million (US$13.8 million).

Marco Almeida, Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art at Christie’s Asia Pacific, expressed his enthusiasm for the fine porcelain collectible: “This magnificent and very rare Qianlong doucai moonflask embodies the superb artistry and craftsmanship of the Qianlong period [1736-1795]. The significant historical and cultural importance, rarity and outstanding quality of this work of art make it a true gem for collectors and enthusiasts alike.”

The circular body of the imposing flask is finely pencilled and enamelled on each side in iron-red, yellow, aubergine and shades of green. A green five-clawed dragon emerges from waves to confront an ascending dragon in iron-red amid cloud-scrolls and flames. The large rising dragon symbolises the Qianlong Emperor, while the smaller serpent represents the heir apparent.

Emperor’s Gift

Puyi wristwatch clocks world record

highest bid

A watch of huge historical significance sparked frenzied bidding at a recent Phillips auction in Hong Kong. The Patek Philippe timepiece is the former property of the last Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Aisin-Gioro Puyi, and sold for HK$48.85 million (US$6.26 million).

The sale of this rare Patek in platinum with moon phases, triple-date calendar and silvered dial had been much anticipated in the watch-buying community. Part of The Imperial Patek Philippe Sale, the wristwatch was subject to a bidding war by at least six collectors and was claimed after a considerable mark-up of HK$9 million on the final nod. The price is a record for the Ref. 69 Quiantieme Lune, as well as the highest achieved by a watch previously owned by an emperor.

The simple, clean silhouette and large unsigned crown express the aesthetics of Bauhaus and understated functionality, while the rose-gold ring, silvered dial and enamel Arabic numerals in a ‘roulette’ configuration underscore a supreme elegance. Purchased in 1937, the watch was kept in its original untouched condition and has a rich patina consistent with its age.

Le Mans Magic

Awesome Aston accelerates off auction block

highest bid

A 2007 Aston Martin racing car has sold for 2.23 million euros (US$2.4 million) at an auction held by RM Sotheby’s. The DBR9 GT1 was one of 24 sports competition cars that lined up for the Le Mans Centenary sale.

First purchased by Gigawave Motorsport team founder Henry Barczynski, the car is thought to be one of just 18 DBR9 chassis constructed by Prodrive between 2005 and 2008. It subsequently had just two other owners, while among the professionals who have sat in the driving seat are Stefan Mücke, Darren Turner, Peter Kox and Tomáš Enge.

The Aston Martin notched up third-place finishes in both the 2008 Silverstone Tourist Trophy and 2008 24 Hours of Spa. Further success was achieved at the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it was third in the GT1 class and 22nd overall. The following year it secured four podium finishes in the FIA GT1 World Championship, winning in Beijing.

The successful bidder also received three spare sets of wheels, as well as the original Pectel/Pi electronics and all relevant operating and computer software materials.