Big money auctions

Big money auctions

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Auctions are traditionally the arena in which some of the world’s most famous and valuable items change hands. The world’s most prestigious auction houses have become a space in which the theatre of trade plays out in the most direct way possible.

Works of art are fetching massive sums at auction more and more often. Art is increasingly seen as a prudent investment, and allows buyers to make a statement not just about their wealth, but about their taste and, with modern art, the fact that they “get it”. Painted in 1905 by Picasso, ‘Boy with a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)’ sold for a record-breaking $104.1 million in 2004. In February 2010, Giacometti’s ‘Walking Man I’ sculpture sold for $104.3 million, and, in May 2010, the record price for a piece of art was broken again when Picasso’s ‘Nude, Green Leaves and Bust’, which he painted in a single day, sold for $106.5 million.

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The most expensive manuscript ever sold at auction is Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Codex Hammer’. It was sold to Bill Gates for $30.8 million in 1994. The manuscript contains da Vinci’s scrupulously documented ideas, both written down and sketched in his lifelong series of journals. Gates published a digital version of the manuscript for the world’s enjoyment in 1997.

Musical instruments come with their own historical narrative. The Guameri del Gesu violin, which was made 250 years ago by the grandson of one of Antonio Stradivari’s apprentices, holds the record for the highest-priced instrument at auction. It was purchased in 2007 by a Russian lawyer for $3.9 million. At a private performance in Moscow, Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman played the instrument for the first time in 70 years.

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When it comes to cars, enthusiasts are often prepared to part with serious cash. In May 2009, in the midst of a recession, a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa was sold at auction for $12.2 million. As long as items like this keep appearing, the super-rich will keep breaking records in their eagerness to own a unique slice of history.

If you’re not super mega filthy rich, you can still join a penny auction.

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