The interesting international auction season has begun!
Last week I enjoyed a few days in London, where I visited two quite different venues at two of the world’s biggest auction houses. It seems that special auctions are again something to look forward to.
On Thursday 18th of February I had the pleasure to participate in the exclusive, invitation-only auction at Christie’s, as they sold memorabilia from the 24th James Bond-film, Spectre. All the proceeds benefited e.g. the Médecins sans Frontières and the United Nations Mine Action Service in South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The auction was a remarkable medley of show, high society and big money. The items were sold within an hour, yet the seasoned auctioneer, charming Hugh Edmeades made sure all the lots were presented accordingly, and the bidders got as much attention as possible. And it certainly did help that the British comic David Walliams cracked a few jokes about the un-smiling Daniel Craig.
Being in the audience was extremely fun. The items were not all necessarily fine, yet the sums collected were quite extraordinary. I was lucky to sit next to David Linley, Christie’s chairman, the son of HRH princess Margaret, and a well-known designer himself. By the shake of his head I could assume even he was surprised for the prices paid.
Or what would you say, for example of the James Bond’s Day of the Dead costume, as worn in the opening scene of the film, sold for £ 98.500 or Ralph Fiennes’ M’s wristwatch by Longines, sold for £ 20.000? Just pocket money, isn’t it?
However, the highlight of the whole auction was definitely the Aston Martin. I had seen it previously in the auction preview – where you could take a selfie while sitting in it – and can indeed state it is an unbelievably beautiful car. As I wasn't allowed to test drive it, I cannot unfortunately tell more about its abilities. Mr Edmeades did take all the time in the world to give interested bidders room to consider. There were at least three bidders around the world on the phone, highly anonymously, and couple of them in the auction room as well. The price climbed steadily, and the beaming auctioneer clicked the gavel at £ 2.1 million, which means that the buyer’s premium and all other expenses counted in, the price hit £ 2. 434 500.
The auctioneering business continued the next day as I took a sneak peak of Sotheby’s preview on their auction of Design Masterpieces: highlights from the Polo collection. It is always lovely to meet colleagues from international auction houses, as they usually have a new prospective on things. The discussions can be lengthy and fun, comparing the experiences in the trade. I received again a heavy bag of catalogues, few ideas on constructing the previews and lots of thoughts on the business' future. We all are trying to broaden our perspectives, and consider new items to be sold.
(Getting up the Gustave Serrurier-Bovy's chandelier is not an easy task.)
Building up the preview in London is quite similar to what we do. There will be painting the walls, lots of wondering how to hang up the chandeliers, picking up bits and pieces together. All is done in a hurry, yet in a nice and productive way; a creative process like no other. Everyone is allowed to present an opinion, and putting up the finishing touches gives a final rush - something has again been constructed, the collections are presented and later on parted. These items will find new homes and make new histories.
The season will continue 2nd of March at Sotheby's, when the personal objects of Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, come under hammer. The Duchess, née Deborah Mitford, was last of the famous Mitford sisters. The contents of her final home will be auctioneered to what I expect an interested crowd. Duchess graced the English society, alongside her elder sisters, with her beauty and brains. She was an ardent speaker for the agricultural life and wished to stay away from the literary and political circles her sisters were keen to be part of. Her personal belongings now on sale consist of e.g. walking sticks, upholstered furniture, silver items, porcelain and paintings.
Oh, and did I mention her collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia? Well, there you are. Not an ordinary peerage here.
Lastly, I merely wonder who will drive the Aston Martin from now on...? Some lucky fellow he or she must be.