A History of High Bids!
Have you ever wondered what fetches the highest bid at auction? As you might have guessed, the big-ticket items include world famous artworks, ornate antique furniture, diamonds, and celebrity memorabilia. Let’s take a look at some of the most expensive auction items ever sold.
(Photo credit: REUTERS)
Nearly everyone recognizes Edvard Munch’s The Scream. The iconic painting, sold by Sotheby’s in April 2012, broke the world record for the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. Twelve minutes after the bidding started at $40 million, the final offer of $119,922,500 (plus commission) came in by telephone. The mystery buyer is rumored to be New York financier and art collector Leon Black, whose art collection is estimated at $750 million.
Pablo Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust was another big seller, fetching $106.5 million at a Christie’s auction in 2010. The portrait of Picasso’s lover Marie-Therese Walter was painted on a single day in 1932.
(Photo: Badminton Cabinet)
The most expensive piece of furniture sold at auction to date is the “Badminton Cabinet,” with a winning bid of $36 million in 2004. The 18th century Florentine ebony chest is inlaid with amethyst quartz, agate, lapis lazuli, and other stones, certainly a one of a kind piece. The luxurious antique was fittingly purchased by Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein and donated to the Liechtenstein Museum in Austria.
One jewelry lover was made very happy with the Wittelsbach Diamond! Sold for $23.4 million to London-based jeweler Laurence Graff, the 35.56 carats rock dates all the way back to the 17th century, but the impressive diamond wasn’t always an easy sell. Christie’s auction house tried to sell it in 1931 but found no buyers. It was finally purchased by a private collector in 1964 and put up for auction in 2008, when it was sold to Graff. Graff reportedly made a profit by selling the diamond in 2008 to the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Chalifa, for approximately $80 million.
(Photo: Elizabeth Taylor’s Ring)
In surprising jewelry sales, a 33.19 carats diamond ring given to Elizabeth Taylor by her fifth husband Richard Burton was expected to bring $2.5 to $3.5 million at a special Elizabeth Taylor Collection Christie’s auction in 2011. Shocking everyone but the buyer, the ring sold for $8.8 million, far exceeding the auction house’s expectations.
(Photo: Marilyn Monroe)
We often hear of celebrity memorabilia being sold at auctions, but do you know how much they actually bring in? Marilyn Monroe’s famous dress worn to serenade President John F. Kennedy with “Happy Birthday” brought in a winning bid of $1,267,500 by Manhattan-based collectible company Gotta Have It! The dress originally cost $12,000 in 1962.
It’s not just dresses that sell big at auction; tresses also make a killing. A lock of Elvis Presley’s hair got the high bid of $115,000 in 2002 by Internet auction company MastroNet Inc. A lock of Mickey Mantle’s hair sold for $6,900 and Neil Armstrong’s hair for $3,000. The New York Times delves into this trend, if you wish to read more.