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Luxury can mean more than things that glitter in the light. For collectors, these lots (sold at prestigious auction houses around the world) appealed to them at a level that went beyond the price. And they are right. From a sledge used by Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, a Panerai watch from WWII, a pre-war Alfa Romeo to a meteorite sphere, here are the hottest lots that found new homes and one that, if you hurry, you may just own.
1. Panerai Radiomir ‘Type A’
Auctioned by Artcurial in Monaco for €226,000.
Far outstripping its top estimate of €120,000, this extremely rare timepiece originally belonged to Rear Admiral Amedeo Vesco of the Italian Navy – a World War II hero who participated in the commando operations of the MAS Flotilla. Its cushion-shaped steel case measures 47mm in diameter and features a screw-down winding crown and a screw back. The watch’s black dial has Arabic figures, ‘baton’ markers, and luminous hands, and is inscribed with ‘Radiomir Panerai’. Its Rolex mechanical movement operates inside a protective capsule with 15 jewels and a Côte de Genève decoration.
2. Shackleton’s Sledge
Auctioned by Bonhams in London for £143,750.
The subject of fierce bidding at Bonhams’ Travel and Exploration Sale in February, this sledge comes from the first expedition to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton. It was used on the 1907-9 British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition by Eric Marshall – one of the four men, with Shackleton, Jameson Adams, and Frank Wild, who undertook the sledge march to the South Pole. Although they had to abandon the attempt, they reached within 100 geographical miles of the Pole, which – at the time – was the furthest south ever traveled. A rare survivor from the expedition, the sledge played a crucial role in this great journey of Polar exploration.
3. Seymchan meteorite sphere
Auctioned by Christie’s online for USD37,500.
Measuring 50mm in diameter and weighing a substantial 360g, this Pallasite – a type of exotic meteorite – was discovered in the Magadan district of Siberia (also known as the location of Stalin’s infamous gulags). The Seymchan meteorite sample – which was formed at the boundary of the stony mantle and molten iron core of an asteroid that shattered, following an impact with another asteroid – has been cut and ground to reveal its internal splendour. Its crystalline iron-nickel matrix features dazzling amber-hued olivine and peridot crystals, cementing its reputation as the most beautiful extraterrestrial substance known to mankind.
4. 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta
Auctioned by Artcurial in Paris for €17 million.
A private collector from the US pipped other car enthusiasts to the post when they purchased this 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta, making it the third most expensive pre-war car ever to be sold at auction worldwide. Widely considered a Holy Grail for Alfa Romeo collectors, only five copies of this model were ever manufactured by the Italian coachbuilder Touring. This characteristically flamboyant version of the Alfa 8C was delivered new in Italy in 1939, and has passed through the hands of just five collectors, having been purchased by the father of its previous owner for €10,000 some 43 years ago.
5. COMING UP
The Spring Stafford Sale
Bidding commences on 27 April through Bonhams in Stafford.
Motorcycle enthusiasts are in for a rip-roaring treat at the two-day Spring Stafford Sale, where the Sant Hilari Collection – comprising more than 100 important competition machines, including several prototype examples – will be offered without reserve. Having amassed this tantalising array of machines over a lifetime spent as both a competitive rider and a works mechanic for several top-flight teams, the vendor’s collection covers marques such as Gilera, Bultaco, Cannondale, and Ducson. Other highlights from the auction include a 1925 Coventry Eagle 980cc Flying-8 OHV (estimated to fetch between £100,000-120,000) and a 1924 Brough Superior 980cc SS80 (which carries a £90,000-130,000 estimate).