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From an Omega Speedmaster that celebrates 50 years since the lunar landing to treasures that have found a home recently. Here are some of the hottest auction lots from auction houses around the world.
1. Omega Speedmaster
To the Moon and Back Bidding commences on 19 July through Sotheby’s in New York.
A carefully curated sale of Speedmasters, entitled Omega Speedmaster: To the Moon and Back, Celebrating 50 Years since Apollo 11, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. Arguably one of the most iconic sports watches to ever come to market, the Omega Speedmaster was the leading choice of astronauts for five decades, making it the only designated timepiece fit to wear on the Moon. Two Reference 2915-1s (with a top estimate of US$250,000) – the first Speedmaster model ever created – are guaranteed to be closely watched lots, as is an Alaska III Prototype, which was made for NASA’s Space Shuttle programme in 1978.
2. Jacquet-Droz & Leschot enamel amphora clock
Auctioned by Antiquorum in Geneva for CHF1.02 million.
The mechanical and aesthetic craftsmanship of this neo-classical style clock, known as ‘L’Oiseau Privé’ (The Tamed Bird), represents the pinnacle of Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s creativity circa 1795. Shaped in the form of a perfume bottle, it stands just over 20cm high and is crafted entirely in gold, while showcasing an array of decorative arts from engraving to painting, paillonné enameling, and a pearl setting around the enamel dial. Positioned at the rear of the clock is a bird animated by a complex automaton movement, which emerges on demand from a secret compartment to chirp a melody as it moves its beak and body.
3. Rabbit by Jeff Koons
Auctioned by Christie’s in New York for US$91 million.
Not for nothing is Jeff Koons’ Rabbit one of the most iconic works of 20th-century art. Instantly recognisable and – for a stainless steel sculpture just over a metre tall – extremely controversial, its time on the block at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in May made Koons the world’s most expensive living artist. This work, executed in 1986, is number two from an edition of three plus one artist’s proof, and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist. Its crisp, cool appearance belies the debate that’s raged over it since its creation, with the work being described as everything from cute to sinister, cartoonish, imposing, vacuous, sexy, chilling, and dazzling.
4. Femme au Chien by Pablo Picasso
Auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York for US$54.9 million.
This auction debut of this magnificent large-scale canvas, which depicts Picasso’s beloved second wife Jacqueline Roque in an armchair and petting the artist’s treasured Afghan hound, Kaboul, set a new world auction record for any 1960s work by Picasso. Completed over the course of almost a month at the end of 1962, the work is rendered with clear affection, humour, and references Picasso’s adoration of canine creatures – a principal subject since his earliest days as an artist. Its bold use of colour, complexity and completeness of composition confirms the work’s status as a masterpiece of Picasso’s late period.
5. Meules by Claude Monet
Auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York for US$110.7 million.
Not only did Meules – an icon of Impressionism from the French master’s Haystacks series – smash the world auction record for any work by Monet, but it also became the first Impressionist work to cross the US$100 million threshold at auction. This 1890 painting, which is one of only four Haystacks pictures to come to auction this century, was the shining star of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in mid-May. It also boasts an illustrious providence, having been acquired directly from Monet’s dealer by Mr and Mrs Potter Palmer – wealthy Chicago socialites and enthusiastic collectors of Impressionist works.