Chronology : 15th century 1400-1429 17th century 1600-1609 1700-1719 1750-1759 1800-1809 1860-1869
The Buddhist Legitimacy of the Yongle Emperor
2014 SOLD for HK$ 350M including premium
The Prince took power in a coup four years later, 1402 in our calendar. His nephew, who perished in the fire of the imperial palace after having revived the feudal war, was scholar minded and supported by the Confucians. The new emperor erased from the annals the reign of his predecessor of whom he massacred the followers, took the name Yongle meaning Perpetual Happiness and immediately began to prepare for the transfer of the capital from Nanking to Beijing.
The ambitious Yongle could not appear as a usurper : he offered to himself a Buddhist legitimacy. He invited the Karmapa, who was one of the most important sages of Tibetan Buddhism and got his power through reincarnation.
The trip of the Karmapa from Tibet to Nanking lasted four years, during which Yongle organized the Buddhist tribute to his deceased parents and prepared lavish gifts. The stories of miracles performed by the Karmapa were propagated and contributed effectively to assure the power of Yongle, now firmly established as Hongwu's heir.
On November 26 in Hong Kong, Christie's sells a wonderful silk thangka embroidered with silk and gold threads, lot 3001. This monumental piece 3.35 x 2.13 m is in perfect condition with bright colors of great beauty.
According to the concerns of Yongle, its theme is the victory over death. The central character with a bright red head is Raktayamari, the Conqueror of Death, who embraces his wife and mercilessly tramples the blue body of Yama the Lord of Death lying on the back of a buffalo. The top and bottom of the image display some deities inviting to Buddhist devotion.
This piece includes the presentation mark of Yongle. The existence of two thangkas of same quality in a monastery in Lhasa along with the fact that the thangka for sale was in Sikkim in the 1940s reinforces the assumption that it had actually accompanied the Karmapa in his return trip.
I invite you to play the video shared by Christie's:
Safavid - The Carpet of Senator Clark
2013 SOLD 34 M$ including premium
One of them created one of the most exciting surprises in the history of auctions. Surfacing in Germany in October 2009, it was estimated € 900 by a local auctioneer. Christie's had a small intuition about the importance of the piece by providing an estimate of £ 200K. They sold it for £ 6.2 million including premium on April 15, 2010.
Now known as the carpet of the comtesse de Béhague, this Kirman in wool 339 x 153 cm was made with one of the more complex techniques identified as the 'vase' technique. This name is unrelated to the decorative pattern.
The carpet of Senator Clark will not create the same surprise as it has already been described for nearly a century as a masterpiece of Persian textile art. It was exhibited after the death of its owner in 1925 in a museum that de-accessions it now. It is estimated $ 5M, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on June 5. Here is the link to the catalog.
Its red background is rare and perhaps unique in its class, the sickle-leaf pattern variant of the 'vase' technique. Its fine floral motifs and its palmettes make it a vibrant and sumptuous artwork in 267 x 196 cm size.
It is always difficult to date and locate an old carpet, if not by considerations of its technical characteristics. The Clark carpet is Safavid and probably Kirman. It is comparable to the best known pieces woven during the reign of Shah Abbas 400 years ago.
POST SALE COMMENT
There is no price limit for the most outstanding art pieces. This extraordinary carpet was sold for $ 34M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's.
It is also shared by Wikimedia.
Cotton and Pashmina
2013 SOLD 4.8 M£ including premium
Measuring 388 x 411 cm, it has a classic repetitive decor of millefleurs, with a star lattice. The drawing of the edge is a later design. It was woven about 300 years ago, but its appeal is largely due to the fact that it is not oldest, once will not hurt!
Indeed, the great ancient Mughal carpets were in silk and are significantly degraded. The Vanderbilt specimen is in cotton, in ivory color for the warp and blue for the weft. The upper layer or pile with the decorative pattern is in pashmina which is a wool from Kashmir.
It is estimated £ 1.5 million, for sale by Christie's in London on October 8.
POST SALE COMMENT
This exceptional carpet from North India greatly exceeded its estimate. It was sold for £ 4.8M including premium.
The image of this magnificent piece of textile in very good condition is shared on Wikimedia:
1740-1770 A Carpet from La Savonnerie, under Louis XV
2000 SOLD for $ 4.4M including premium by Christie's
2008 SOLD 2.5 M€ including premium
It is a pure product of the Manufacture Royale de la Savonnerie, since its cartoon was designed there by Pierre-Josse Perrot, and this copy was woven therein between 1760 and 1770 (according to Sotheby's), or between 1740 and 1750 (according to Christie's). It is not one of the three examples that were woven for the royal furniture, in 1735, 1740 and 1769, one of which is currently in Fontainebleau. Perrot was the titular designer of the Savonnerie, and his style of decoration was particularly appreciated by King Louis XV.
On 2 November 2000, at the sale the very prestigious Riahi collection at Christie's, it was sold $ 4.4 million including expenses, doubling the price that Christie's had obtained in London in 1994. It is the catalog in Sotheby's, as always very detailed in the origins and dates, which invited me to find these historic sales made by its competitor.
POST SALE COMMENT
The sale of that lot, which seemed difficult to me, is successful: € 2.5 million including expenses.
This result is especially interesting to note when so many French furniture are no longer able to sell. Both Riesener furniture that I included in my weekly preview for the same sale have not found a buyer.
2014 SOLD for € 1.9M including premium
Napoléon was a military leader whose early career took place during the French Révolution. When he named himself Empereur in 1804, his dual attitude became staggering. It was the same man who wanted to be loved by humble soldiers for winning their loyalty and to lead the most luxurious court in the world.
Between the battle of Marengo in 1800 and the fall of the Empire in 1815, the model and bearing of the hat hardly changed and it is not possible to date accurately a specific example. To distinguish himself from his generals, he refused the plumet of feathers and used the wings above the shoulders.
Napoléon bought four hats a year, and each one could endure three years. During the Consulat and the Empire, he worn about fifty hats of which many have disappeared. A true Napoléon's hat can not be in good condition. He had it forced before wearing and took off the cocarde when he reformed it.
On November 16 at Fontainebleau, Osenat in collaboration with Binoche et Giquello sells a Napoléon's hat, lot 89 estimated € 300K, from the collection of the Princes of Monaco. This piece in black felt has still its inner silk but a new cocarde has been reestablished.
See it below, tweeted on November 11 by the bidding platform Interencheres.
1865-1870 A Maharajah converts to Islam
2009 SOLD 5.4 M$ including premium
He commissioned the creation of a carpet in pearls and gems, whose beauty can be worthy of the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad at Medina. This work unique in its kind was made, but the Maharaja died in 1870 before the gift was made. The carpet was retained by the family, and remained there for over a hundred years.
It looks in its patterns like a textile carpet centered with three rosettes, and otherwise based on the millefleurs motif fashioned in India in the previous century. It consists of two millions of natural pearls, hundreds of gems of all kinds and a countless colored glass beads.
Sotheby's, which sells it in Doha on March 19, does not publish the estimate but only the starting bid: 5 MUS$. For the moment it is the most extraordinary artwork that has been announced for auction this year.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sensing the difficulties in the market for Islamic art, Sotheby's had lowered its starting bid at $ 4.5 million. They have done well. The carpet of pearls was sold at $ 4.8 million hammer, $ 5.4 million including fees.
1920 The Jersey of the Babe
2012 SOLD 4.4 M$ including premium
The sale by SCP Auctions on May 19, online from California, of a wool jersey of the Babe is indeed a considerable event. Two weeks before the auction ends, this lot has already surpassed Lou Gehrig's jersey sold for $ 717K including premium by Heritage on November 5, 2010.
Moreover this jersey dates from an exceptional period in Ruth's career and is in very good condition. It is marked NEW YORK, which makes sense for this sportsman. However, Ruth had made the success of the Boston Red Sox before being transferred in 1920 to the New York Yankees.
The jersey has retained its original identification with the name of Ruth. A photo of the champion made in March 1920 shows him with a jersey identical as the example to be sold, confirming, if not the year, at least the period when the garment was made by Spalding and worn by Ruth.
Here is the link to the press release shared by AuctionReport.
POST SALE COMMENT
The prices of the rarest pieces have no predictable limit. Babe Ruth's jersey was sold $ 3.7 million before fees, 4.4 million including premium.
The memorabilia from Babe Ruth provided two other notable results: $ 590K including premium for a bat and $ 540K including premium for a cap.
This sale was also very successful for baseball cards from the 1950s in mint condition (PSA10): $ 430K including premium for Roberto Clemente, and $ 360K including premium for Hank Aaron.
For post WWII baseball, let us also mention a jersey worn by Mickey Mantle in 1968, sold $ 370K including premium.
BABE RUTH BIRTHDAY: Today on January 6 1895 the greatest player to play the game of Baseball was born. Here is the best piece of Ruthian memorabilia sold by @SCPAuctions for $4,415,658 World record for a piece of sports memorabilia #Baberuth @baseballhall @Yankees @MLB #MLB pic.twitter.com/Z5BL5bA2DF— SCP Auctions (@SCPAuctions) February 6, 2018
1955 The Most Famous Pleated Dress
2011 SOLD 5.6 M$ including premium
This lovely ivory white gown was a technical achievement. It must be heavy enough to stay graceful while walking, and light enough to fly above the wind tunnel. The designer Travilla chose a rayon-based fabric. A photo of the famous scene illustrates the article shared by the Daily Mail.
In 1971, 20th Century Fox sells many of their movie props, due to financial difficulties. The actress Debbie Reynolds, who was the dance partner of Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, acquires prestigious pieces before they are auctioned.
She now splits her extraordinary collection, in two sales held by Profiles in History in Beverly Hills. The subway dress is included in the first sale, on June 18. It had never been submitted to a public sale, and it is very difficult to predict the price. The auction house announced a very open estimate that seems reasonable: between 1 and 2 million $.
POST SALE COMMENT
The sale was available live on the bidding provider site LiveAuctioneers. It was well attended by buyers, and the top lot reached a remarkable price: $ 4.6 million before fees.
It is a triumph in the category of movie props.
1962 At the Closest from Marilyn Monroe
2016 SOLD for $ 4.8M including premium
Marilyn has carefully prepared her contribution. The details are a surprise to the President and to the viewers. She composed the short poem 'Happy birthday Mr President' which she sings at the podium in a voice altogether languid and breathless after removing her coat.
She had ordered for this event to Jean Louis a stunning dress such as "only Marilyn Monroe could wear it". The effect of her performance is high among that well-wishing attendance. Jackie Kennedy is upset.
Jean Louis (Jean-Louis Berthault) is working for Hollywood studios since 1943. His designs have pushed Rita Hayworth to the rank of the sex symbol of the postwar period. He had already worked with Marilyn in 1961 for The Misfits.
Marilyn turns 36 less than two weeks later. Her professional career is at a point of no return. She is contractually linked with Fox whose projects do not bring any more pleasure to her. She feels that her body that made her fame will begin to get softened. She dreams of becoming a great tragic comedian.
The gown by Jean Louis is the culmination of the flamboyant youth of Marilyn and her apotheosis. Its color is perfectly consistent with her skin's. The garment with an open back is so tight that the zipper does not work completely and the last stitch is sewn on the actress. Under the stage lights the hundreds of crystals well distributed on the fabric sparkle to hide her nakedness while reinforcing the illusion of it.
On late June the Last Sitting is made. Photographed for Vogue magazine, Marilyn displays her still young body that Jean Louis's gown had masked. The root cause of her death on 5 August 1962 is not known.
The dress made by Jean Louis for Happy Birthday is estimated $ 2M for sale by Julien's in Los Angeles on November 17, lot 84. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1989 Boetti's Blue Planet
2010 SOLD 1.83 M£ including premium
In addition to his own work, he is the author of a fertile idea. In 1974, he chose as a subject the Mappa, the map of the Earth, which he made tirelessly woven by Afghan or Pakistani workshops. The design is fixed: they are the continents. The choice of colors of earth and sea is made by the craftsman, along with his possible selection of a text for the border. The flags of the nations are embroidered at the place of their geographic location.
In 1989, this choice tends to converge to blue seas, which effectively allow a nice contrast with the other colors. The tapestry for sale by Christie's in London on June 30, 116 x 217 cm, is in an almost black blue that distinguishes it from the other copies. For this reason, it could reach an unprecedented price for a work by this series, 900 K £.
It is adorned with a quote from Sa'di on the one essence of the human race, in Farsi.
POST SALE COMMENT
Christie's had every reason to consider their Mappa as exceptional. It was sold 1.83 million pounds including premium.
Two days earlier, Sotheby's had well sold another fine example of the Mappa, 114 x 167 cm, woven in Kabul in 1984: 880 K £ including premium.