The last few months have witnessed some monumental items hit top bids, from an astronomical moon memento to a vintage Bugatti to a cryptocurrency musical album, these are the latest collectibles to have gone under the gavel and collected large sums.
A meteoric success that landed astronomical bids
Promising the moon might be the last desperate recourse for ill-starred romantics, but it may no longer be an aspiration beyond the reach of everyone. As proof of this, one of the star performers at a recent online auction conducted by Christie’s New York was a lunar meteorite that made its way to the Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites sale.
Weighing a mere 123.9g and measuring 43mm in diameter, it was initially estimated to raise some HK$200,000 at auction. However, it finally went under the gavel for HK$3.97million. Designated as NMW 12691, the moon rock in question was the stand-out item among an impressive 250kg trove of space debris that was uncovered two years ago, prior to it being sculpted into a moon-resembling sphere. With only 750kg of lunar meteorites known to exist on Earth, its rarity alone makes it something very special. Value for money or lunar lunacy? The jury’s still out.
A stellar Botticelli
Taking retail therapy pretty much to the max, one particularly monied and mysterious collector spent some US$114.5 million on a fine selection of high-end artworks at Sotheby’s Master Paintings and Sculpture Sale, with their total expenditure accounting for about 80 percent of the day’s sales. Among the highlights of their haul was one very special piece – the Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel (dating back to around 1480 AD) by Sandro Botticelli, the celebrated Florentine painter.
The 15th-century 23in x 15in tempera-on-poplar panel masterpiece, which was one of the acknowledged highlights of the live-streamed auction, has rarely come up for sale. Indeed, it was last sold at auction in December 1982, when it changed hands for some US$1.1 million. Its recent reappearance not only caught the imagination of almost every prospective virtual bidder, but also went on to be the highwater mark of the event, ultimately commanding a price of US$92.2 million. This eminently immense winning bid sees it ranked as the second-most-expensive Old Master painting ever to be sold at auction, surpassed only by Italian maestro Leonardo da Vinvi’s Salvator Mundi (circa 1500).
A Gallic symbol: Pride of French Motoring
Bugatti, the rightly-renowned luxury French automobile manufacturer is justly synonymous with the world’s most sophisticated and high-performance sports cars. The brand has also long taken a lead in terms of chassis design, earning a cult-following among keen collectors, many of whom are only too willing to invest sizable sums in securing the marque’s most memorable models.
A case in point is Bonham’s Legends of The Road auction, which featured a rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S that fetched HK$40.1 million as part of a London-hosted online sale. Off the market for a considerable period, this exceptional vintage motor vehicle only returned to the spotlight after being in a private collection for some 50 years. It was, however, presented in almost pristine condition, with the original black paintwork of its chassis, along with its spotless cream leather interior and coachwork all but spotlessly preserved.Thought to be one of only three special lightweight models produced for the 1936 Grand Prix Season, it was famed for being the fastest road car of its day.
Cryptocurrency, that much fabled virtual coinage, has exploded in virtually every area of life, from payments and fund transfers to humanitarian-minded technological developments. So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the worlds of digital music and cryptocurrency have now collided. In fact, many in the underground and virtual music space have long had a declared interest in this innovative technology, but none to the same extent as Justin David Blau, the producer, DJ and cryptocurrency enthusiast better known as DJ 3LAU.
In what has been billed as ground-breaking moment for the joint evolution of music and technology, Blau – in partnership with Origin, a San Francisco-based blockchain platform – launched a unique auction to commemorate the third anniversary of Ultraviolet, one of his most ground-breaking albums.The world’s first tokenised musical product, it set a new record for a single NFT (non-fungible cryptographic token) auction when a 10-minute bidding war saw the special limited edition album sell for a jaw-dropping US$11.7 million after 33 would-be owners had battled it out. The winner now has the opportunity to collaborate with the DJ on a new single.