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Enjoying the finer things in life, whether it is a beautiful bottle of whisky or a sublimely playful luxury watch, makes us feel alive. Of course if you were the lucky one with the winning bid to George Michael’s trove of art, you would be humming one of his sweet tunes while admiring the pieces right now. Here are the latest and hottest lots sold at prestigious auction houses recently. Swipe to the end to see the fine art pieces owned by the late actress Drue Heinz that you can still get your hands on, if you hurry.
1. Mortlach 47 Year Old
Auctioned by Bonhams in Singapore for SGD50,000 (RM151,983).
Only 94 bottles of Mortlach’s oldest and most precious expression exist, and this one – bottle number eight – was the first of its kind to be made available at auction ahead of its release in April. It is also the first release from The Singing Stills Series: a collection of incredibly rare single cask expressions, drawn from the final three casks that remain unmoved from Mortlach’s original warehouse since 1971. Sold at an exclusive private client event hosted by the Diageo Private Client Team – Southeast Asia for Rare and Collectable Spirits and supported by Bonhams, the auction proceeds went to Daughters of Tomorrow, a charity for underprivileged women.
2. Pair of Imperial Bowls
Auctioned by Bonhams in New York for US$1.04 million (RM4.3 million).
Leading Bonhams’ sale of Fine Chinese Paintings and Works of Art, this exceptionally rare pair of Imperial famille rose ‘quails and chrysanthemums’ bowls epitomises the very finest Imperial porcelain of the Yongzheng reign, which was renowned for its elegance, artistry, and innovative design. First acquired by the American heiress Virginia ‘Ella’ Hobart, the bowls are exquisitely enamelled with the rare design of quail and chrysanthemum blossoms, and bear Yongzheng six-character underglaze-blue marks, plus those of the period (1723 to 1735). Even more unusually, they feature continuous decoration over the rim and onto the interior – as opposed to retaining a plain undecorated interior – in a technique known as guoqiangzhi.
3. Careless Whisper by Jim Lambie
Auctioned by Christie's in London for £175,000 (RM944,973).
The much-anticipated George Michael Evening Auction, featuring the art collection of the British singer and songwriter, amassed an impressive total of £9.2 million (RM49 million) in March as part of a continuation of his philanthropic work. Michael’s private art collection represented his own dialogue with artists of the Young British Art movement, including prominent figures such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas. Of particular note was Scottish contemporary visual artist Jim Lambie’s Careless Whisper, which sold for over ten times its pre-sale estimate and established a world auction record for the artist.
4. IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch Single Piece
Auctioned by Sotheby’s online for US$60,000 (RM248,178).
Determined to contribute to the charitable work of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation and the Association Arrimage in France, IWC Schaffhausen auctioned a special timepiece with a one-of-a-kind engraving. The online auction, which was organised by Sotheby’s, featured a Big Pilot’s Watch Single Piece (Ref. IW500923) with a unique engraving of an iconic quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous novel, The Little Prince. ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly’ were the words on its 18-karat 5N gold case – and just as enticingly, IWC brand ambassador Bradley Cooper wore it to this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.
5. Queen of Sheba with Gold Lump by Rose Wylie
Auctioned by Phillips in London for £175,000 (RM944,974).
Charging into Spring with their 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, the shining star of Phillips’ auction was British painter Rose Wylie’s Queen of Sheba with Gold Lump, which set a new auction record. Created in 2012, this striking oil on canvas work comes in two parts, referencing the legendary Queen of Sheba from the Hebrew Bible, as well as the 1921 eponymous blockbuster in early cinema. True to form, the canvas brims with unbridled energy and jubilant colour, reflecting Wylie’s fascination with film culture and her lighthearted spirit.
6. The Collection of Drue Heinz
Bidding commences on 13 May through Christie’s in New York.
A keen supporter of the literary and visual arts, British-born American actress, philanthropist, and socialite Drue Heinz acquired a remarkable collection of fine art during her lifetime. Picasso, Giacometti, Monet, Magritte, and Matisse are just some of the names that feature in her collection, which she built during her three-decade-long marriage to H.J. Heinz II, CEO of the H. J. Heinz Company. Among the most tantalising lots is Amedeo Modigliani’s 1919 oil on canvas work, Lunia Czechowska (à la robe noire), which is estimated to fetch between US$12 to18 million (about RM49 to 74 million).