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From the gun that Vincent van Gogh used to shoot himself to a Harley Davidson that belonged to Marlon Brando, which incidentally sold for three times the estimate, to sublime fine wines and a rare Birkin bag, these lots all tell a story.
And speaking of things that have an iconic purpose, there’s a 1939 Porsche Type 64 that is coming up for auction very soon. Possessing it would really be owning a piece of human history.
1. Vincent van Gogh's revolver
Auctioned by AuctionArt in Paris for €162,000/RM760,070
Discovered by a French farmer around 1960, this rusty 7mm Lefaucheux pinfire revolver was utilised by Vincent van Gogh when he attempted to take his own life in a field in Auvers-sur-Oise on July 27, 1890. The Dutch artist, who experienced frequent psychological crises, shot himself in the chest and died two days later – and the gun, meanwhile, fell to the ground where it remained for the next 70 years. Once discovered, it was given to the owner of the inn where the artist died, and remained in the family by descent, as well as being exhibited in Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum for their 2016 exhibition, ‘On the Verge of Insanity’.
2. Hermès Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 35
Auctioned by Christie’s in London for £162,500/RM852,998.
Long considered the Holy Grail of handbags, this exceptionally rare 2015 Hermès matte white Himalaya Niloticus crocodile Birkin 35 was welcomed by a full saleroom, a packed phonebank, and bidding from across the globe during Christie’s Handbags & Accessories auction. The Himalaya Birkin – named for its similarity to the majestic, snow-capped Himalayas through its delicate gradation of colour from smoky grey to a pearly white – is considered the ultimate expression of Hermès’ artistry and has spawned a collecting phenomenon. This particular handbag is fitted with palladium hardware and comfortably outstripped its initial top estimate of £90,000/RM472,429.
3. Marlon Brando's 1969 Harley Davidson
Auctioned by Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles for US$179,200/RM740,690.
A 1969 Harley Davidson motorbike emerged as the top-selling item of Julien’s Auctions’ two-day marquee Hollywood auction event, Legends – no surprise, really, given that it was formerly the property of Marlon Brando. Going for nearly three times its original starting estimate of US$60,000/RM248,000, this Harley Davidson FLH Electra-Glide was purchased by Brando in 1970. Even before he established his image as a rebel on a motorcycle in his role as Johnny Strabler, he was known to ride around New York City and later, would often ride on endless desert roads in the American Southwest.
4. Four bottles of 1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Auctioned by Madison Fine Wine Auction in Hong Kong for HKD500,000/264,631.
Several stars emerged during Madison Fine Wine Auction’s mid-June sale, which saw 399 rare and fine wines and spirits (sourced from 22 trusted consignors) being presented for auction, and eventually bringing in a sale total of HK$21.6 million. “The amazing results of MFWA’s 2019 summer sale demonstrate a robust appetite in the market for quality fine wines," CEO Gabriel Suk said of the auction house’s 100 per cent sale-through rate. A single six-litre bottle of 1982 Château Pavie sold at 271 per cent over its top estimate for HKD38,000/RM20,112, while four bottles of 1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti emerged as the highest-selling lot.
5. 1939 Porsche Type 64 Berlin-Rome, No. 3
Bidding commences on 15 August through RM Sotheby’s in Monterey.
The only surviving example of the 1939 Porsche Type 64 Berlin-Rome, No. 3, this is the oldest car to wear the Porsche badge, as the Type 64 predates the first production Porsche (which later became known as the 356). It also served as the personal car of Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche, and will be offered in Monterey from the long-term care of just its fourth owner, accompanied by many original spare parts, extensive period images, and historic documentation. Its standing as perhaps the most significant surviving piece of Porsche engineering and design history means that it is estimated to bring in excess of US$20 million/RM82.6 million on the auction block.