The Marvelous Four on the Auction Block

Four remarkable lots that impressed bidders in recent auctions are featured in this month’s Look Section, including a flawless diamond ring, a likely singular timepiece, a masterpiece of splashed-ink art and six of Messi’s football jerseys.

Fancy In Pink: Flawless diamond rings supreme

The largest fancy intense pink internally flawless diamond ever to appear at auction set pulses racing at Christie’s in Hong Kong. ‘The Pink Supreme’ took centre stage at a series of sales spanning more than 110 lots of magnificent jewels. While an array of coloured and colourless diamonds and gemstones and other superb creations emanating from prestigious jewellery houses came under the hammer, it was this 15.48-carat fancy intense pink cushion brilliant-cut diamond ring which shone the brightest. It fetched HK$83.87 million (US$10.8 million), representing a price per carat of HK$5.41 million (US$700,000).

The Pink Supreme diamond is considered a true rarity. The phenomenal and unparalleled beauty, size, internally flawless grading and splendid craftsmanship of this stone have combined to produce a bejewelled masterpiece coveted by collectors.

Vickie Sek, Chairman of Jewellery at Christie’s Asia Pacific, said: “We were truly delighted to showcase a diverse selection of magnificent jewels at our Hong Kong 2023 Autumn Sales, and the superb result realised for The Pink Supreme is a testament to the unwavering market demand for this category.”

One To Watch: Likely singular timepiece clocks a fortune

A previously unknown and possibly unique Patek Philippe ref. 3974 Grand Complications wristwatch made a timely appearance at Phillips auction house in Hong Kong, generating much enthusiasm among watch admirers. Eventually selling for HK$14 million (US$1.8 million), the timepiece was part of a successful watch auction in which a total of 208 lots were sold, reaching an overall value of HK$181.7 million.

This Patek Phillippe ref. 3974 minute repeater perpetual calendar watch in platinum (possibly manufactured in or around the year 2001) went to a bidder for well above the pre-sale low-end estimate. Indeed, the auction showed strong sales performances for many of the lots and attracted more than 1,700 collectors participating from 61 countries and regions.

Thomas Perazzi, Phillips’ Deputy Chairman and Head of Watches in Asia, said: “The top 10 lots beautifully demonstrate how varied the market is with the Patek Philippe ref. 3974 in platinum flying way above its pre-sale estimate, while a Rolex ‘Stelline’ ref. 6062 in yellow gold achieved 40% more than its previous sold price at auction, and a number of independents established strong results.”

Autumn Glow: Yosemite colours make a splash

Works by Zhang Daqian are eagerly awaited by the auction community and when a masterpiece of splashed-ink art made its way onto the block in Hong Kong, the final price of HK$199.37 million (US$25.6 million) did not disappoint. Indeed, such was the anticipation in the runup to the sale of Autumn Mountains in Twilight that Sotheby’s bestowed upon it the highest estimate ever for a splashed-ink-and-colour landscape by the artist.

Born in Sichuan in 1899, Zhang had turned to bold abstract artistic representations in the later part of his career when his eyesight began to falter. The roving and prolific Chinese artist was inspired to paint Autumn Mountains in Twilight after a visit to Yosemite National Park in California during the summer of 1967, and in this work, his mastery of the medium is seen to reach new heights.

It was a sentimental journey as his brother had stopped at the park years previously and a treasured photograph he had been given from this visit had been lost in a fire. The sheer magnificence of the sunset views of Half Dome or El Capitan stirred Zhang’s creative juices, and returning to his home in Brazil he set to work. The golden hues of the cliffs and valleys cover almost the entire canvas.

Messi Magic: Six shirts score the lot

Half a dozen football jerseys worn by Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi during the 2022 World Cup have been auctioned for an incredible US$7.8 million. Held by Sotheby’s in New York, the sale sparked intense interest from lovers of sporting memorabilia and the final price was the highest achieved by a sports item at auction last year. It also surpassed the previous record for a Messi collectible – a shirt worn at the 2017 El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona that went for $450,000 in 2022.

Messi wore the six World Cup shirts during the first half of the final, semi-final, quarter-final, round of 16 and two of the group stage matches at the Qatar tournament, where the spotlight was trained upon him throughout. His country’s victory in the epic final with France merely cemented a widely considered reputation that he is the greatest footballer of all time.

“These historic shirts are not only a tangible reminder of one of the most important moments in the history of sports, but are principally connected to the pinnacle moment in the career of the most decorated football player in history,” said Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Head of Modern Collectibles.