Applauding Creations From Different Centuries – Auction Bids to Note

Regardless of the time of the creation – the 16th century or the 20th century – anything that is crafted with great precision will surely rack up more appreciation and ultimately fetch mind-blowing auction bids. Four such works are a necklace worn by Princess Diana, The Head of Saint John the Baptist presented to Salome painting, and two more.

Iconic Cross

Diana necklace surpasses bid estimate

Auction Bids

An amethyst and diamond pendant once worn by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, fetched £163,800 (HK$1,534,906) at a Sotheby’s auction. Kim Kardashian outbid her rivals to scoop up the Attallah Cross. The cross was bought by Naim Attallah CBE, from Garrard in the 1980s and through his friendship with Princess Diana, he could loan it to her several times over a number of years to wear at events. It is understood that the Princess only ever wore the cross, and following her death, it was never seen in public again until the auction. The cross-shaped pendant – thought to be a one-off private commission by Garrard for one of their regular clients – is a bold and colourful piece set with square-cut amethysts and accented by circular-cut diamonds. The cross has a total diamond weight of approximately 5.25 carats and measures about 136 x 95mm. Head of jewellery at Sotheby’s London, Kristian Spofforth, said: “To some extent, this unusual pendant is symbolic of the princess’s growing self-assurance in her sartorial and jewellery choices, at that particular moment in her life.”

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Head Hunts
Depiction of decapitated saint

Auction Bids

A controversial early masterpiece created by the renowned 16th century Flemish grandmaster, Peter Paul Rubens – Salome Presented With the Head of Saint John the Baptist – changed hands for an astonishing US$26.9m at auction during Sotheby’s Masters Week. Supposedly painted in 1609, it is regarded as one of a small group of masterpieces created by the artist immediately following his return from Italy in December 1608. The painting formed part of a truly grand white-glove sale of works from the fabled Fisch Davidson Collection – one of the most significant arrays of Baroque art ever to come to market. While many other fine items jostled for attention during the course of the sale, there was no doubt that this renowned example of Rubens’s singular artistic vision was the star attraction, with the winning bid of US$26.9m – the third highest price ever paid for one of the artist’s works at auction – merely confirming its significance. Christopher Apostle of Sotheby’s New York, said: “This Masters Week has been one of the strongest ever staged by Sotheby’s, both in terms of the record numbers pouring through our doors to peruse the lots on the show and the spirited bidding later seen in the saleroom.”

Bronze Award
Rijksmuseum wins bidding battle

Auction Bids

A bronze figure of an écorché man – an individual sculptured with his inner anatomy very much on show – created by Willem Danielsz Van Tetrode, a much-admired 16th-century sculptor, went for a fairly healthy US$1.5 million when recently auctioned in New York. A sculptor rightly renowned for dramatic compositions and skilled écorché, this particular work – perhaps unimaginatively known simply as A Bronze Figure of an Écorché Man – together with Hercules Pomarius and Striding Warrior, are generally viewed as his three most accomplished pieces. Perhaps boosting its appeal to collectors, however, the exaggerated body, long legs, abbreviated torso and visually dazzling musculature are quite unlike any of the sculptor’s other works. Particularly popular throughout much of the 17th century, this sculpture was said to have inspired many later artists, with its distinct colouring and contours recreated in a host of subsequent drawings and paintings, most famously in Voorhout’s A Young Scholar in his Study. The sculpture is now believed to have been acquired by the Rijksmuseum.

Muscle Memory
Nostalgia for the days of the mighty muscle

Auction Bids

To the surprise of many, a 1969 Dodge Hemi Daytona muscle car – typically a two-door sports coupé designed for high-performance driving – sold for a highly commendable US$1.43 million at Mecum Kissimmee, a specialist automobile auction event held recently in Florida. Perhaps adding to its value, the vehicle was previously owned by Kevin Greene, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and David Spade, the well-known US TV and movie star. Boasting a 4-speed manual transmission, power steering and a 426/425 HP Hemi engine, its eventual sale price far outstripped that commanded by a similar model that went under the gavel in 2022. This may be at least partly because it is believed to be the lowest-mile, original engine four-speed Hemi Daytona still in existence. Remarkably, it has retained its value even though its first owner removed the original interior and arranged for all its body panels to be custom re-painted, while its factory wheels and tyres were put into storage. Although this Daytona model was only in production for one year, it is viewed as one of the most iconic vehicles in automotive history.

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(Text: Neil Dolby)