Art News & Views

What Happened and What's Forthcoming

Post Auctions



Record price for Arpita Singh's Wish Dream 

December 9

As predicted, Arpita Singh's monumental work Wish Dream achieved record price of Rs 9.6 crore ($2.24 million) at Saffronart's winter auction. This is also the highest price achieved by an Indian woman artist at auction globally, and a world record price for an artwork sold at any online auction. The auction experienced four other lots realising over 1 crore mark, which include FN Souza's Disintegrated Head (Rs 1.4 crore), SH Raza's Oasis (Rs 1.3 crore), MF Husain's Untitled (Rs 1.2 crore) and Subodh Gupta's Idol Thief I (Rs 1.08 crore). 80% of the offered 100 modern and contemporary Indian works were successfully sold, grossing an impressive total of Rs 30 crore (USD 7.1 million). Almost 60% of which sold for prices that exceeded their high estimates with works by KG Subramanyan, FN Souza and Arun Kumar HG exceeding their upper estimates by more than 200%.

While Arpita Singh's stunning mural made up of sixteen individual canvas panels clinched the limelight, works by FN Souza saw great interest, with four of his paintings making it to the top 10 lots sold in the auction. Another landmark at the auction was KG Subramanyan's Inayat Khan Looking at Oxford 3 from 1987. Several bidders drove the price to a remarkable Rs 20 lac (USD 46,635) four times higher than its upper estimate of Rs 5 lac.


Watches make an impression

December 2

The sale of important watches at Christie's Geneva realized $13,255,585, selling 90% by lot and 92% by value. The sale also established the superiority of the Asian secondary market for watches, over the rest of the world, with a Patek Philippe Platinum automatic perpetual calendar minute repeating wristwatch with moonphase display (1993), fetching US$ 712,998 (estimated at HK $ 4,000,000  5,500,000) and another Platinum automatic minute repeating wristwatch, limited edition (1997) Patek Philippe fetching US$ 620,334 (estimated HK $3,200,000  4,500,000), both going to Asian private collections. The third leader of lots was a 2009 Greubel Forsey, Quadruple Tourbillon that was taken up by a middle eastern private collector at US$ 481,338 (estimate: HK $2,200,000  3,000,000).

Sam Hines, Head of Sale, Christie's Hong Kong Watches Department said: “Breaking the HK$100 million mark with our Fall auction of Important Watches serves as a fitting finale to what has become the largest auction season ever for any auction house in Hong Kong. We saw a tremendous turnout from collectors around the world, with bidders from five continents competing for the rare and collectible timepieces offered. This sale drew a particularly large online audience, with 185 online bidders and more than 20% of the lots offered either being bought or directly underbid online.”


Record total for a jewellery auction

November 16

Sotheby's Geneva set a world auction record for any diamond and any jewel when it sold an exceptionally rare and truly magnificent Fancy Intense Pink diamond of the purest, vibrant hue, weighing 24.78 carats for US$ 46,158,674.

Four bidders competed for the gem which was one of the most important and beautiful gemstones ever to come up for auction and had last been on the market 60 years ago. The diamond was finally bought by Patti Wong, Sotheby's Chairman in Asia, bidding on behalf of Laurence Graff. Shortly after the sale, Laurence Graff named the diamond “The Graff Pink” and said, “It is the most fabulous diamond I've seen in the history of my career and I'm delighted to have bought it.”

Commenting on the sale of the pink diamond, David Bennett, Chairman, Europe and the Middle East, Sotheby's International Jewellery Department, said: “(The) spectacular result demonstrates that truly extraordinary objects will bring truly extraordinary prices. This outstanding pink diamond combined exceptional colour and purity with a classic emerald-cut and fully deserves the exceptional price. It was simply one of the most desirable diamonds I have seen during my 35-year-career at Sotheby's.”

The absolute scarcity of fine pink diamonds exceeding 20 carats made the appearance at auction of this stone a landmark moment in the world of fine gemstones. The emerald-cut stone, mounted as a ring, had been assessed to be a member of the rare and coveted type II, a classification which comprises less than 2% of all of the world's gem diamonds. This stone came to the market from a private collection, and has not appeared on the open market since it was purchased some 60 years ago from Harry Winston. This sublimely beautiful stone was offered for sale with a pre-sale estimate of US$27-38 million. The sale of Magnificent Jewels concluded with the exceptional total of US$ 105,047,918, a figure well above pre-sale expectations. Bidders from all corners of the world were out in force, bringing the overall sell through rates of 82% by lot and 94% by value. Top prices were achieved for important white diamonds, rare coloured stones, jewels with important provenance and exceptional signed pieces.

Calligraphy realizes $5.6 million 

December 16

'Hurouf: The Art of the Word' Sale, the first-ever international auction entirely devoted to calligraphy, realised the outstanding total of $5,630,125 in excess of the pre-sale high estimate of $5.5 million. The sale established sell-through rates of 72.5% by lot and 87.6% by value, and set 9 new records for artists at auction and benchmarks for 21 artists whose works have never before been offered in an international sale. 32% of the buyers were new to Sotheby's.

Following the auction, Robin Woodhead, Chairman Sotheby's International, commented:  “This evening’s sale concludes a remarkable week in Qatar. The concept of this calligraphic auction was exceptionally well received when we announced the sale in June, and the momentum and enthusiasm generated grew as we exhibited highlights in London, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain with further events held in Beirut, Cairo and Kuwait, leading up to our pre-sale exhibition in Doha and culminating in this evening's auction.”

Discussing the results, Dalya Islam, Deputy Director of Sotheby's Middle East Department and Head of Sale, said: “We are delighted with the results … which established 9 new records for artists at auction including Ahmed Moustafa, Khaled Ben Slimane and Mounir Fatmi, and benchmark prices for 21 artists new to auction. The success of the auction is testament to the ambitious vision, range and scope of the works on offer leading to exceptionally strong prices for work in all categories, periods and media. The depth of bidding and buying was truly international, further reinforcing Doha's status as a cultural hub for the region. A remarkable 32 % of buyers were entirely new to Sotheby's.”

Malcolm Forbes toy collection brings $2.4 million

December 17

A packed salesroom of toy collectors and enthusiasts watched as The Malcolm Forbes Toy Collection achieved $2,388,637. The collection of toy boats, soldiers, motorcycles and classic board games was lovingly gathered over nearly four decades by legendary collector Malcolm Forbes and his sons. Boats by the celebrated German maker Märklin dominated the top prices brought in the first half of the auction. The sale was led by a Märklin Lusitania Ocean Liner that sold for $194,500, a new auction record for a toy boat. The toy had previously held the record when it was purchased by Mr. Forbes at Sotheby's New York in 1983 for $28,600. Also drawing interest from several bidders was an Exotic Clockwork Gunboat Attributed to Märklin /Rock and Graner which achieved $134,500.

The groups of toy soldiers offered sparked considerable interest from bidders in the room, on the phone and those participating online. The group was led by The Sack of Troy that features a tinplate walled city of Troy, a suspiciously large horse, and Heyde figures of Greek and Trojan warriors, which sold for more than four times the high estimate of $5,000 to bring $21,250. Aloys Ochel Figures and Aztec Pyramid, which depicts a dramatic battle between the Aztec warriors and the troops of Hernando Cortez around the Pyramid of the Sun in Tenochtitlan, sold for a remarkable $13,750, well in excess of the pre-sale high estimate of $3,500. Two rare sets of finely detailed medieval heraldic model figures handmade in Great Britain by Richard Courtenay also sold well: a group of 29 Courtenay Mounted Knights, England, circa 1930s-1950s brought $15,000, while a group of 13 Courtenay Mounted Tournament Knights, England, circa 1930s-1950s sold for $8,750.

Another major highlight from the sale was an original Monopoly game-set of circular design, handmade by Charles Darrow, probably 1933, and descended in his family. The gameset sold for $146,500, well-above the $80,000 high estimate. It is the earliest Darrow set known to survive, the only one of circular shape, and the earliest to include the rules.


Blue and white Dragon jar sells for $7.66 million

December 13

A blue and white porcelain Dragon jar sold for $7,658,000 in the Fine Asian Works of Art sale on Monday December 13th at Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco. The 360-lot sale brought more than $19 million with the vast majority of the lots fetching multiples of their estimates.

The excitement in the standing-room-only saleroom was palpable, as determined bidders on the telephone and in the audience fought to win the much-coveted jar. Brooke Sivo, the sale's principal auctioneer and a 22-year veteran of the art world, expertly guided the bidding along until it culminated in the record price.

There was much anticipation and deliberation over the Dragon jar. Following careful pre-sale research and consultation, the firm described the jar conservatively as Qianlong Mark, Late Qing/Republic Period and gave it a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-15,000.

Ultimately, two key bidders backed their own judgment and the Dragon jar sold for a remarkable $7,658,000.

Dessa Goddard, Vice President and Director, Asian Works of Art, commented, "The jar proved to be a puzzle for several clients with whom I spoke who all declared it to be unique. Without a consensus of opinion we felt obliged to be cautious with our attribution.  Needless to say, we are elated that the jar achieved such a spectacular price. Its sale provided a fantastic slice of auction drama that our clients and staff will remember for many years to come."

The blue and white porcelain jar measures an impressive 14 inches high and is decorated with bands of plantain leaves, waves, and a cloud-collar at the waisted neck and broad shoulders.  The sides are densely painted with six meticulously rendered five-clawed dragons portrayed emerging from crashing waves and flying amid stylized clouds and flames.


Asian works of Art achieve strong result

December 13

Skinner, Inc. announced impressive results at its December 2010 auctions of Asian Works of Art and Fine Jewelry, underscoring continued momentum in 2010 and market enthusiasm around Skinner's unique offerings. Skinner's Asian Works of Art auction grossed over $5.7 million, while Skinner's Fine Jewelry auction grossed over $3.1 million. These sales were just the latest in a string of highly successful auctions at Skinner, marking the year as one of the most successful in the company's history.

Skinner's Asian Arts department has experienced phenomenal growth in the past few years as the market for rare and important Chinese material has exploded. The December 2010 auction of Asian Works of Art surpassed all expectations, far exceeding the pre-auction estimate with a gross of over $5.7 million, making it the company's most successful Asian Art auction to date, and the second highest grossing auction ever at Skinner. Highlights of the sale include: album leaves from China which sold for $1,227,000; a Zhang Daqian modern painting which sold for $424,000; a painting album which sold for $154,050; a Zhang Ruocheng handscroll which sold for $130,350.00 and a Wu Hufan fan Painting which sold for $88,875.00.

Skinner's Fine Jewelry auction grossed $3.1 million and set a new world record price for a piece of Miriam Haskell costume jewelry: a vintage Miriam Haskell Edwardian Revival tassel necklace, which sold for $13,035.00. The overall collection of rare Miriam Haskell pieces sold well, as buyers responded to the unique opportunity to add an original Haskell piece to their collection. But it was diamonds that stole the show at this sale, just in time for the holidays, capturing the top 5 lots sold including a platinum and diamond solitaire which sold for $207,375.00; an 18k gold, colored diamond and diamond ring which sold for $165,900.00; a Harry Winston platinum and diamond solitaire which sold for $100,725.00, more than double the high estimate; a platinum and diamond solitaire which sold for $95,985.00 and a Van Cleefs and Arpels platinum and heart shaped diamond solitaire, which sold for $77,025.00.


Forthcoming auctions


Banksy's Greenpeace campaign poster on Sale

January 11

An original art work by the legendary street artist, Banksy, for a Greenpeace Save or Delete campaign photographic poster, is to be sold at Bonhams, as part of its Urban Art. Estimated at £60,000 - 80,000, the unique piece was given to the vendor by the artist himself.

The art work was commissioned by Greenpeace to highlight the problems of global deforestation as part of their Save or Delete campaign. The image, which features some of the main characters from Disney's The Jungle Book transposed onto a picture of a devastated forest, was intended for use on posters, billboards and postcards.

Another sale highlight is a performance piece created by American graffiti artist, Futura 2000, for punk rock band The Clash's Combat Rock tour. Best-known for painting subway trains during the 1970s, Futura 2000 was commissioned to paint the stage backdrop for The Clash whilst they performed. Estimated at £15,000  20,000, it is believed to be the only work to have survived from the gigs.

Century Old Persian Recipe for Sale

January 19

Bonhams next sale of Indian and Islamic Art features a 19th century recipe manuscript that offers a fascinating insight into the preparation of various dishes in Qajar Persia, more than a century ago.

Commissioned by Muhammad Quli Khan-e Qajar Quyunlu, Majd al-Sultaneh (d. 1905), this Persian manuscript is a slim volume of 37 folios, written in a wonderfully elegantnasta'liq script in black ink, with the names of recipes written in larger script. It is estimated to sell at a very modest £400-600.

Alice Bailey, Head of the Indian and Islamic Department at Bonhams, comments: "For anyone who is interested in the food of other cultures, this collection of Persian recipes compiled in the 19th century from Iranian as well as European sources, offers a wonderful window into a culture famed for its culinary sophistication."

This recipe book belongs to a tradition of writing down Iran's well-known culinary excellence which unfortunately has largely been lost. The recipes include measurements for ingredients, often detailed directions for the preparation of dishes, including the types of utensils and pots to be used and instructions for decorating and serving them. The ingredients and their combinations in various recipes are very similar to those in use today.

Victorian and 19th Century European Paintings

January 27

Two beautiful oil paintings of the Welsh countryside by Alfred de Breanski are to feature in Bonhams auction of 19th Century Paintings on 27th January. Fishermen and cattle, Betts-y-Coed is expected to fetch £10,000-15,000 while The Llugwy from Pont-y-Cyfyng, Capel Curig is estimated to sell for £5,000-7,000.

Alfred de Breanski (1852-1928) was a British landscape artist admired for his spectacular and resplendent views of Wales and the highlands of Scotland. These rural scenes are noted for their beautiful depiction of light and often feature sheep or cattle. The artist made his debut at the Royal Academy in 1872, and his works were exhibited here until 1918. He went on many trips to Wales to paint the scenery and it was on one of these visits that he met the Welsh artist Annie Roberts, whom he later married.

His works are well regarded and can be found in several museums including the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Southampton Art Gallery.

Charles O'Brien, Head of 19th Century Pictures at Bonhams, comments, "Alfred de Breanski is considered the master of the romantic highland landscape. Although highly prolific, there is always a quality to his work that has resonated with collectors over the years. We are delighted to be offering these two works in our sale in January and expect considerable interest from private collectors and dealers alike."





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art etc. news & views is a monthly magazine published from India in order to promote art and culture. It intends to raise awareness about art all around India and the world. The magazine covers art exhibitions, auction highlights, market trends, art happenings besides Antique, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewellery, Vintage, Furniture, Film, Music and Culture.