Chronology : 15th century 1400-1429 1530-1539 17th century 1600-1609 1650-1659 1700-1709 1770-1779 1860-1869 1929
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.
Jiajing Palace Carpet
2021 SOLD for € 6.9M by Christie's
A pair of dragons symmetrically positioned around a well centered flaming pearl was an auspicious theme. A fragment 450 x 315 cm that preserved bright colors was sold for $ 670K by Christie's on December 11, 2014, lot 8.
A Ming carpet 510 x 450 cm still with its complete borders and wool thickness was sold for € 6.9M from a lower estimate of € 3.5M by Christie's on November 23, 2014, lot 224. It had probably be placed beneath the throne on a platform. It is well preserved excepted that the typical bright red background of the Ming style has faded into yellow. Please watch the video prepared by the auction house.
The drawing of the pair of imperial dragons and of clouds, waves and mountains are highly stylized, providing a more dynamic effect than in Wanli time. Such a decoration around the imperial seat highlighted the Son of Heaven as the center of the world. By comparison with dragons featured in porcelains, this carpet could be dated from the Jiajing period.
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.
Safavid - The Béhague Carpet
2010 SOLD for £ 6.2M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2021
This wool carpet is knotted using the intricate Vase technique, suggesting that it was woven in the royal workshops of the Safavid dynasty. It measures 339 x 153 cm and is in outstanding condition except for a few tiny repairs and some corrosion of the black threads. It had been commented in 1938 by an expert who stated for its provenance the prestigious collection of the comtesse de Béhague.
The golden age of Kirman carpets is the reign of Abbas I, who died in 1629 CE. The Béhague carpet is characterized by a very elegant simplification of shapes that Christie's positions around the mid-17th century.
In a magnificent geometric regularity, parallel stems support several pairs of leaves. From top to bottom, the leaves of one stem alternate with the leaves from the adjacent stem. Tiny flowers are inserted into the spaces between the leaves. This decoration anticipates the repetition of flowers and leaves in the highly popular Herati pattern and may evoke some figures from the Iznik ceramics.
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:
1777 Colors of the Revolutionary War
2006 SOLD for $ 12.3M by Sotheby's
His late father, a shipowner from Liverpool, had made his fortune in the slave trade. As soon as the war for independence broke out, the 21-year-old Banastre crossed the Atlantic. In 1778 he created in New York the Tarleton's Raiders, a cavalry unit wearing the green uniform of the British Legion. This brilliant officer is famous for the massacre of the Patriots at the Battle of Waxhaws.
Directly from his descendance, the four trophies were auctioned by Sotheby's on June 14, 2006.
Lot 1, sold for $ 12.3M, is a flag of the 2nd Continental Light Dragons taken in 1779 at the Battle of Pound Ridge. It is in silk 76 x 90 cm plus a 7 cm silver fringe on the three fly sides.
This piece is the only surviving example of the first style of US flags, with the thirteen red and white stripes symbolizing the founding states but before the addition of the stars by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. In the center of this flag, a rectangle fabric is painted with a winged storm cloud with a motto in ribbon. Its terminus post quem is the creation of its regiment on December 12, 1776.
The other three flags were sold together for $ 5.1M, lot 2, by Sotheby's on June 14, 2006. They constitute the 3rd Virginia Detachment color set, taken at Waxhaws in 1780.
One of them is in gold-yellow silk 128 x 115 cm painted with a beaver dropping a palmetto tree and sewn with a block of sky blue silk bearing the thirteen silver stars in the disorder of a constellation. The other two, a little smaller, are respectively in gold-yellow and blue silk. Their terminus post quem is the definition of their style by the Continental Army in 1778.
1865-1870 A Maharajah converts to Islam
2009 SOLD 5.5 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, $ 5.5 million including fees.
1928-1929 Babe Ruth Road Jersey
2019 SOLD for $ 5.6M by Hunt
The players used two jerseys, a home jersey for the games on their field and a road jersey for trips. A jersey could be used throughout one season or more, which further increases their rarity.
Compared to the next period, documents allowing photo-matching are scarce. The experts thus pay the greatest attention to the details of making which allow an identification of the year or a range of years, rather than on the shears in the textile or on misalignments in the inscriptions.
A Spalding road jersey of size 46 attributed to Babe Ruth has just surfaced. It was sold for $ 5.6M by Hunt Auctions on June 15, 2019, lot 47. The sale is mostly devoted to a personal collection of Babe Ruth, perhaps to be correlated with the very recent death of his second daughter.
The 'Yankees' mark on the front side enables to date the garment between 1927 and 1930. A label inside the collar is marked 'Ruth'. A number 3 has been erased at some point while leaving some traces.
The photos of Babe Ruth in 1927 show another placement of the buttons. The photo-matching orients rather towards 1928 or 1929. It is in 1929 that the Yankees began to sew a number on the jerseys to facilitate the identification of the players by the public. Ruth had received the number 3.
UPDATE: Babe Ruth NY Yankees Jersey added to Ruth Collection Live Auction at @yankeestadium. Professional model Yankees Road Jersey Worn by the #Bambino dates to the 1928-30 era with Potential to Set World Record Pricing in Excess of $4,000,000! @NewYorkYankees #SultanofSwat @MLB pic.twitter.com/0dx9NChNR4— Hunt Auctions (@HuntAuctions) April 23, 2019
1955 The Most Famous Pleated Dress
2011 SOLD 5.6 M$ 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.
1986 Diego Maradona Shirt
2022 SOLD for £ 7.1M by Sotheby's
Maradona scored within four minutes at the beginning of the second half two goals that were to become legendary for opposite reasons.
He opened the score with a goal helped by his hand. At that time when no video support was available for the referees, the point was declared as valid in an atmosphere of triumph supported by Maradona's spectacular celebration. Fully aware of his mischief, Maradona commented in the post game press conference that he made the goal “un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios".
The decisive goal of the match was scored by Maradona four minutes after the Hand of God. This one is a great demonstration of Maradona's superior dribbling skills as he had been able to pass four defenders in a run of half the length of the pitch. It will referred in 2002 as The Goal of the Century and described as the greatest individual goal of all time. The image of Diego celebrating that feat is shared by Wikimedia.
A later English goal put the final score to 2-1.
Steve Hodge had been involved as an English defender in both Maradona's winning actions. He managed to swap his shirt for Maradona's in the changing room. Please watch the interview shared by Goal of Steve Hodge as 'the Man with Maradona's shirt of God'.
Maradona's shirt of the Hand of God and the Goal of the Century was loaned from 2002 by Hodge to the National Football Museum in Manchester. It was then consigned by him to Sotheby's who commissioned conclusively to Resolution Photomatching the photo-matching with the quarterfinal. It was sold for £ 7.1M from a lower estimate of £ 4M on May 4, 2022, lot 1.