Love Lots – The latest news in the Auction Market

Check out Bob Dylan’s collection of love letters, Piet Mondrain’s abstract painting, White Disaster by Andy Warhol and the revived vintage watch from Titanic.


Forever Young

Lots of love from Dylan to his classroom crush

Legendary American folk musician Bob Dylan is as renowned for his generation-inspiring songbook as he is for his antiauthoritarian lyrics. As such, it may come as no surprise that a collection of letters by the revolutionary bard recently fetched a stunning US$65,000 (HK$508,000) at auction.

The literary lot featured 42 letters all penned by Dylan, who, back then, was still known as Robert Zimmerman, when he was in high school, and chronicle his attempt to woo Ann Hewitt, his classroom crush.

Born in 1941, Hewitt settled with her family in Hibbing Minnesota and it was there that she met Dylan in her high school history class. The couple’s first date took place on New Year’s Eve 1957, with their romance lingering on until at least the end of 1959.

Sold by Boston-based auction house RR Auction, the letters, which run 150 pages in total, cover everything from Dylan’s musical ambitions to short snippets of poetry and, of course, sweet billetdoux to his beau.

Also included in the lot were a signed Valentine’s Day card and an unsigned handwritten note from Dylan to Hewitt.


Square Deal

Mondrian art goes under the gavel

The works of Piet Mondrian, the iconic abstract Dutch painter, seldom come up for auction, so the news that one of his most admired pieces – Composition No. II, featuring, of course, his signature red, blue, white and yellow squares- was going under the gavel and created quite a stir.

Putting the significance of the sale into perspective, Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s head of impressionist and modern art for the Americas, said: “Quintessential works by Piet Mondrian rarely come up for auction, as many are permanently housed in some of the world’s most prestigious museum collections.

The once-in-a-generation opportunity proved no disappointment with the piece in question – created in 1930 and last auctioned in 1983 when it fetched a then-record $2.15 million (HK$16 million) -exceeded all expectations with the winning bid reported as some $51 million (HK$400 million).

Mondrian, a pioneer of abstract art, relocated to Paris in 1912 after being impressed by the early cubist works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. There he began to experiment with his own take on depicting fragmented representations of reality.



Car crash proves salesroom smash

Universally celebrated for its highly-influential pop art iconography, Andy Warhol dabbled in a wide array of artistic disciplines – from film to performance art to illustrative prints and far more. It was, however, one of his muchcoveted silk screen prints that recently exceeded all expectations when it sold at auction for US$84 million (HK$ 657 million).

The piece in question, White Disaster, was created in 1963, a time when Warhol had become obsessed with gruesome and morbid imagery, with everything from nuclear mushroom clouds to electric chairs co-opted into his apocalyptic visions.

The particular work features a single image of an automobile accident duplicated 19 times in black and white across 12 feet by 6 feet canvas. Prior to the sale, it was held in a private collection for 25 years and had previously been owned by both Heiner Friedrich, founder of the Dia Art Foundation and Thomas Ammann, the wellknown art dealer.

A smaller artwork from the same series, Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), fetched a record-breaking US$105.4 million (HK$820 million) in 2013.


Time Titanic

Classic car drives high bids

A watch belonging to a postal clerk sailing aboard the ill-fated Titanic recently went under the hammer at Henry Aldridge & Sons, a southwest England-based auction house, along with several other momentoes of the doomed cruise liner.

Selling for an unprecedented £98,000 (HK$910,000), the considerable interest in the watch confirmed the abiding fascination with the infamous ship and its unfortunate fate, which seems to remain as strong as ever among memorabilia collectors and canny investors everywhere.

The rare vintage watch, which belonged to RMS Titanic clerk Oscar Scott Woody, as traggic as the story sounds, stopped forever at the moment its owner slipped into the freezing North Atlantic on that fateful night of 14th April 1912.

Recovered from the icy depths and returned to his wife, Leila, a month after the ship went down, the watch was the centerpiece of the sale, outvaluing several related lots, including a menu for first-class passengers, a list of those first-class passengers, an ornate dessert plate and a section of a column from the liner’s à la carte restaurant.