The Most Expensive Items That Have Been Auctioned in History

There are many categories of items that set legendary auction prices—fine artwork, rare manuscripts, precious gems—but they all have certain characteristics in common. They may be extraordinarily beautiful or well crafted, have historical significance or cultural resonance, but the most important factor is their rarity. When an item is unique or nearly so, its price at auction can go through the roof. Here are a few of the most expensive:

The Codex Leicester: Leonardo da Vinci was not only famous as an artist, but as a thinker whose ideas in many fields were well ahead of his time. He wrote his notebooks in a mirror cursive script, which this manuscript features. It was sold to Bill Gates in 1994 for the whopping price of $30.8 million.

“Pink Star” diamond: The largest fancy pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America, this 59.6 carat stone sold at auction for $71.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong in 2017, exceeding the previous record for the most expensive diamond sold at auction.

Balloon Dog, Orange: This sculpture by Jeff Koons is one of a series whose counterparts are owned by a veritable who’s who of the elite. When this one sold for $58.4 million in the 1990s, it set the world record for a work by a living artist.

The Clark-Sickle Leaf carpet: This seventeenth-century Persian rug sold at auction for $33.7 million in 2013 to an anonymous buyer. Once the property of industrialist William Clark, the carpet was auctioned off by the Corcoran Gallery of Art to raise funds for future acquisitions.

L’Homme Qui Marche I: This 1961 sculpture by Alberto Giacometti of a walking man, which stands six feet tall, sold for $104.3 million, making it the most expensive sculpture ever auctioned.

The Scream: One of the most easily recognizable works of modern art, this version of Edvard Munch’s famous painting sold for $119.9 million. Of the four versions of the work that the artist created, this is the only one that is privately owned.

Salvator Mundi: This Leonardo da Vinci painting, once thought to have been destroyed but rediscovered in 2011, sold at auction in 2017 for a mind-blowing $450.3 million, smashing all previous records for the most expensive painting sold at auction.

Qianlong Vase: This antique Chinese porcelain vase is believed to date from the 18th century. Once belonging to Chinese royalty, it was taken from the Chinese mainland during the Second Opium War. It sold at auction for $53 million.

While the world’s treasures may set records, AuctionKing.com brings fine art, high-end jewelry, and collectibles to our customers at down-to-earth prices. You can shop our authenticated selection with confidence and bid from the comfort of your own home on our secure platform. We bring the excitement and opportunity of a professionally run live auction to you. Register today for a free online account and start bidding!

The Jewelry Brands That Celebrities Swear By

We can’t help but be fascinated by what the stars choose to wear. After all, celebrities aren’t just in the business of looking good, they’re also in the position to know the top brands for both style and quality. Where these trendsetters lead, others follow. If you’re looking to add a dash of celebrity style to your jewelry wardrobe, here are some brands to check out.

Unsurprisingly, celebrities tend to be associated with some of the biggest and well-known high-end jewelry brands in the business. For example, Cartier’s Love bracelet is a favorite, spotted on the wrists of celebs such as Jennifer Aniston, Sofia Vergara, Kylie Jenner, and Pippa Middleton. Chanel jewelry, especially one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, is also popular with stars such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga. Bulgari is another favorite, with both Ashley Judd and Olivia Munn having been spotted wearing their jewels. The gorgeous aquamarine and diamond necklace that Gal Gadot wore to the 2018 Oscars was a creation of Tiffany & Co., as were the tassel earrings Natalie Portman wore to the same event in 2011. And of course among Hollywood’s elite, Harry Winston jewels are a classic go-to.

Believe it or not, however, celebrities do not always go around dripping in lavish jewels. When they go for a more understated look, they often turn to newer, up-and-coming designers for something different. For example, delicate pieces by Los-Angeles based Jennifer Meyer have become popular, with stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Hilary Swank, and Katy Perry sporting her designs. Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Winslet have been seen wearing multiculturally influenced necklaces and rings by Jacquie Aiche. And UK designer Monica Vinader produces contemporary jewelry that attracts celebrity fans like Emma Watson and the Duchess of Cambridge. These designers tend to have prices that, while not exactly bargains, are a little more affordable for mere mortals.

If you’re looking to emulate celebrity style without racking up exorbitant bills, there are a number of ways to go about it. First, you can scale back—while celebrities might stack up several Love bracelets on a single arm, most of us can content ourselves with one. Second, you can purchase second-hand or at auction. Buying retail is a certain way to pay a high price, but buying at auction gives you the opportunity to buy a high-end piece of jewelry without the retail markup. Finally, you can always look for a similarly styled piece from a less well-known jeweler or designer. If you can find a bracelet or earrings that have the same style but without the premium name, you’re likely to pay much less.

When it comes to pulling off a polished look, the stars and their stylists know where it’s at. It’s worth taking a page out of their book when you want to look your best.

10 Sports Memorabilia Items That Have Been Auctioned for the Most Amount of Money

Passionate fandom is a given in almost any sport, which is why sports memorabilia is a booming business. Owning a jersey, a baseball card, a game ball, or a trophy is like owning a piece of history, being part of iconic moments in sports that may have changed the course of a game or brought home a winning championship. The rarer or more significant the item, the more likely it will be to command a jaw-dropping price. Here are ten of the most expensive items of sports memorabilia (so far!) that have been sold:

$956,000 – Soccer – Football Association Challenge Cup: The FA Cup is the world’s oldest soccer competition, started in 1871. The trophy auctioned off in 2005, the oldest of the four FA Cups that have ever been made, was given to the winning team from 1896 to 1910.

$996,000 – Baseball – Babe Ruth’s 1920 Yankees Contract: While no-one is exactly sure why the Boston Red Sox chose to sell Babe Ruth’s contract to the Yankees in 1920, there is no doubt that the move launched the Yankees to greatness. This contract marked the beginning of an era of success for both Babe Ruth and his new team.

$1.1 million – Boxing – Muhammad Ali’s 1965 Floyd Patterson Fight Gloves: Even for those who don’t follow boxing, Muhammad Ali is one of the most recognizable sports figures of all time. These gloves, auctioned on Ali’s seventieth birthday, were from a fight he won against Floyd Patterson by technical knockout in the twelfth round in 1965.

$1.4 million – Soccer – Sheffield Football Club Rules, Regulations, and Laws: Auctioned in 2011 to raise money for the club, this pamphlet is believed to be one of the earliest football instruction pamphlets.

$1.265 million – Baseball – Babe Ruth 1923 First Yankee Stadium Home Run Bat: Auctioned in 2004, this bat is the most expensive ever sold, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

$1.275 million – Hockey – Paul Henderson 1972 Jersey: Paul Henderson, the Canadian hockey legend, wore this jersey in the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. Henderson scored the series-winning goal for the Canadians in the eighth game.

$3 million – Baseball – Mark McGwire’s 70th Home Run Ball: In 1988, Mark McGwire smashed the previous home-run record for a single season by nine runs. This ball, driven to deep left field in his seventieth home run of the season, brought a record price at auction.

$3.12 million – Baseball – Honus Wagner 1909 Baseball Card: With only 57 in existence, Honus Wagner’s baseball card has sold for staggering prices more than once. The most recent sale of one, in 2016, exceeded the previous record price for one of these cards by over $300,000.

$4.3 million – Basketball – James Naismith’s 1891 Rules of Basketball: Unlike many sports whose origins are disputed, basketball is considered the creation of James Naismith, who came up with it as a game to be played indoors during cold northern winter months. This original document laid out thirteen rules that established the basics of the sport.

$4.415 million – Baseball – Babe Ruth 1920 Jersey: The most expensive piece of sports memorabilia sold to date is Babe Ruth’s earliest known Yankees jersey, from the 1920 season when he made 158 runs and 54 home runs for his new team.

Of course, you don’t have to be a millionaire to own part of the game you love. AuctionKing.com offers a constantly updated selection of authenticated sports memorabilia at bids starting as low as $1. Register today for a free online account to get started!

Spotlight on May’s Birthstone: Emerald

Emerald is a variety of beryl, a mineral family that includes aquamarine and morganite. Emerald’s rich green to blue-green color is caused by the trace elements chromium, vanadium, and iron. The exact hue of a particular stone depends on the relative proportions of each of these elements, with a higher iron content producing more of a blue tint, and higher chromium and vanadium content producing a purer green tone.

Due to the way emeralds are formed in nature, almost all of these gemstones have readily visible inclusions. Emeralds that are eye-clean are both extremely rare and extremely expensive! Experts expect that genuine emeralds will have inclusions, and their presence does not diminish the value of a stone unless they are so numerous and/or large that they significantly impact the gem’s transparency or clarity.

While emeralds are a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, indicating that they have significant resistant to scratching, the stones tend to be brittle. In addition to their natural inclusions, most emeralds tend to have fractures. This makes them difficult to cut and somewhat delicate to wear. In general, they should not be exposed to rough treatment or extreme temperatures. In addition, emeralds may be treated with oil, wax, or other fillers to reduce the appearance of surface-reaching fractures. While such treatments are common, this means that the stones should not be exposed to steam or ultrasonic cleaning methods.

Like other colored gemstones, emeralds are evaluated on the basis of the 4 Cs—color, clarity, cut, and carats. Of these factors, the most important for emeralds is the color. The most valuable emeralds are an even, vivid green without color zoning. The color should not be too blue or too yellowish—when that is the case, the stone is not considered an emerald at all, but some different variety of beryl.

As noted before, a genuine emerald is unlikely to have flawless clarity. However, a heavily included stone will be less valuable than one with fewer inclusions. The cut of an individual stone should maximize the size of the emerald while minimizing the potential effect of any fractures and producing the best possible color. Finally, size does matter—unlike with some stones that are readily found in larger sizes, emeralds increase dramatically in value as their carat size increases when other quality factors are equal.

Although high-quality emeralds tend to be pricey, it is possible to get pendants, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings at below-market values. The live online auction at AuctionKing.com stocks a wide selection of professionally appraised, authenticated emerald jewelry that is updated constantly as new finds become available. Sign up for a free online account and start bidding securely from the comfort of your own home today!

Where Interior Designers Go for Art

 

Interior designers face a multifaceted challenge every time they design a new space. At a bare minimum, they have to work within the constraints of the existing architecture of the house, apartment, or office in question to satisfy the client’s personal taste. They may also need to incorporate existing furnishings or artworks into the scheme of the new design while sourcing new elements to complete the overall look. And undoubtedly, they need to accomplish all of this within a budget. Given that art is the finishing touch that breathes life into any interior design, where do these experts go to find it?

Art presents a particular challenge, because clients’ tastes in paintings or sculpture can vary widely. An interior designer attempting to meet the diverse needs of various clients will need to have multiple sources for artworks that fit a variety of aesthetics. Therefore, they tend to cast a wide net in cultivating relationships and exploring opportunities for finding interesting art for their clients.

The key is to be able to quickly find artwork that is affordable for their clients. Interior designers do this by networking with art galleries, studios, art schools, and artists themselves. It’s not unusual for designers to spot promising talent when artists are still in school and follow their careers as they mature. Modern artists tend to use social media to promote their work, so savvy interior designers will also use this resource to spot potential finds. Interior designers may also work with art consultants or scouts who specialize in finding artworks based on criteria like size, style, and medium.

Interior designers also take advantage of the cost savings and opportunities available through buying art at auctions. From representational to abstract art, original paintings, lithographs, giclees, or sculptures, the artwork found at auction often represents a wide range of styles. Just as importantly, these pieces can be obtained at prices far below those you would find in a gallery, which helps an interior designer stretch their client’s budget further than it might otherwise go.

AuctionKing’s collection of fine art gives our clients the opportunity to buy art (and find deals!) like the professionals, all from the convenience of our secure online bidding platform. We stock an ever-changing selection of styles, types, and sizes of art to fit any taste, and our low starting bids put them within reach of even a modest budget. If you’re looking to give your home or office that perfect finishing touch, sign up for a free online account today to start bidding.

 

 

10 Most Desired Handbags

Luxury handbags have long been a classic sign of sophistication and wealth. They’re elevated over ordinary handbags by their combination of top quality materials and superior craftsmanship, which is why those who have the means and the taste to enjoy them choose them.

Luxury handbags

Even among luxury handbags, however, there are those that have become favorites, with a must-have status that has fueled their popularity over the years. Ten of the most desired are:

  • Louis Vuitton Neverfull: Introduced in 2007, the Neverfull has become one of Louis Vuitton’s most successful bags. This larger tote-style bag is meant to carry all of your essentials, and it comes in three sizes: PM (small), MM (medium), and GM (large).
Legendary Neverfull from Louisvuitton.com
  • Hermés Birkin: This bag was invented from the chance meeting of singer/actress Jane Birkin and Hermés CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on an Air France flight in 1983. When she complained that she couldn’t find a bag with enough pockets, he took notes, and thus the Birkin was born. These bags are known for being both popular with celebrities and very difficult to obtain.
Birkin from Hermes.com
  • Hermés Kelly: Designed in the 1930s, this bag became popular from its association with Grace Kelly, the actress and princess of Monaco. Famously, she used the bag to conceal her growing pregnancy from the paparazzi in 1956. In 1977, the bag was officially rechristened in her name.
Kelly Bag from Hermes.com
  • Chanel 2.55: This luxury leather flap bag is the updated version of Coco Chanel’s original handbag introduced in 1929. It is called the 2.55 because of the date it was created—February 1955. The 2.55 includes many features of iconic Chanel style, such as the chain straps and quilted diamond pattern in the leather.
2.55 Handbag from Chanel.com
  • Fendi Baguette: This compact handbag, which fits neatly under the arm like a loaf of French bread, is often credited with being the first “it” bag. Sarah Jessica Parker’s character on Sex and the City carried one, bringing it wider exposure and popularity.
Baguette from Fendi.com
  • Lady Dior: Created in 1995, this classic Dior bag can be found in a variety of sizes (micro, mini/small, medium, and large) and colors. It was originally conceived as a gift to Princess Diana on her visit to Paris.
Lady Bag from Dior.com
  • Chloe Paddington: In 2005, all 8,000 of the Paddington bags produced for Chloe’s spring collection sold out before they even hit stores, turning the soft bag with its giant signature padlock into the bag to have.
Paddington Leather Bag from Nordstrom.com
  • Gucci Jackie: Originally called the Fifties Constance, this hobo-style shoulder bag was renamed after Jackie Kennedy, who made it a hit when she was seen carrying it. A new, updated version was introduced in 2009.
Gucci Jackie Bag from Vestiairecollective.com
  • Yves Saint Laurent Sac de Jour: Created in 2013, this modern carryall-type bag became instantly popular with celebrities. It comes in a variety of sizes, from nano to large, and a wealth of colors and textures to fit any style.
Sac De Jour Duffle from Ysl.com
  • Prada Saffiano: This tote gets its name from the type of leather used in its construction. The textured diagonal pattern, which is extremely resistant to scratching, is made with a machine and has a wax finish that enhances its durability.
Saffiano Bag from Neimanmarcus.com

When you’re looking for designer handbags, it pays to check out the live online auction at AuctionKing.com. We bring our customers the best authenticated goods at the lowest possible prices, with bids starting as low as $1. Sign up for a free account today to start bidding.

How to Find Auctions in Your Area

Purchasing merchandise at auctions is often a good way to get what you want at a significant discount from retail prices. If you’re looking for vintage or collector’s items, it may also be the only way to actually find what you want for sale. Live auctions offer the best opportunities for great deals, but you may not be familiar with all the auction opportunities in your area or how to find them. Here’s where to look:

Auction houses: Start with an online search of your area and auction houses. This should give you a list of auction companies located in your area and their websites. Upcoming auctions should be listed there. If you know you are in the market for a specific category of items, add that to your search to refine the results.

General estate auctions: Estate sales, which may include furniture, jewelry, artwork, and household items of all kinds, take place in communities across the country every day. Many will be advertised in the newspapers and on those papers’ websites, as well as on community websites. Those ads will generally list the auction company’s name, so you can contact the auction company directly to find out when other auctions will be held. There are also a couple of online sites (estatesales.net and estatesales.org) that can help locate estate sales near you.

Government auctions: Public agencies hold different kinds of auctions that can be opportunities for the public. Regular agencies may hold auctions to get rid of surplus office equipment or similar items on a periodic basis. Police agencies hold auctions to dispose of confiscated goods. You can find notices for both types of auctions in free weekly newspapers, or in announcements posted in government buildings. Again, you can also look online for listings; one website dedicated to providing information on auctions of this type is governmentauctions.org.

Storage auctions: When the contents of a storage unit are abandoned by their owner, the storage facility will typically hold an auction to get rid of them. These may be advertised locally, or you can call storage facilities to find out when they will be holding their next auction. Keep in mind that you’ll be bidding on the entire contents of a storage unit, and you may only have a few minutes to glance at the lot up for bid to decide how much or even if you want to bid.

 

Of course, your research may reveal why live auctions tend to remain an underutilized resource for most people—lack of convenience. It isn’t always possible to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a live, in-person auction. This is why we created AuctionKing.com, to provide a secure site where our customers can participate in auctions conducted by a live, experienced auctioneer from wherever they happen to be. We bring the auction experience to you so you never have to miss out on a great find. Sign up for a free online account today and start bidding!

Heated vs. Unheated Gems

Knowing the ins and outs of gemstones doesn’t stop with knowing a ruby from a sapphire, or an amethyst from an aquamarine. If you’re looking for gemstone jewelry, you’ve probably been introduced to the idea that many different kinds of gemstones are treated to enhance their appearance prior to being sold. The reality is that only a very small percentage of well-known gemstones are considered “gem quality” without some form of treatment. One of the most common types is heat treatment, used to enhance already existing color, reduce inclusions, or produce a desirable color. So what does this mean for a jewelry buyer?

While the exact method of heat treatment can vary according to the type of gemstone being treated, in general the process subjects a gemstone to high heat over a period of time. In a sense, this is just an extension of the natural processes that produce gemstones in nature, because high heat is often involved in producing the exact hue of particular stones. Stones have been heat treated for centuries, and under normal conditions, the enhancements produced by heat treatment are considered permanent and durable. The effects of heat treatment may, in some cases, be evident to a trained gemologist closely examining a stone under magnification, but they will not be obvious to a casual observer.

Heat treatment is commonly used on a wide variety of gemstones. In fact, for many types of stones, it is safer to assume that they have been heat treated unless the seller and the gemological report for the piece you are considering tell you otherwise. Stones that are routinely heat treated include sapphire, ruby, tanzanite, tourmaline, amethyst, citrine, aquamarine, topaz, zircon, and morganite.

Whether or not such treatment is of concern to a buyer depends on that buyer’s personal preference and on how the stone is represented by the seller. A tanzanite that has been heat-treated to produce a more saturated violet-blue color is still a tanzanite, and still quite valuable, but less so than one that was never heat-treated. Some collectors prefer only untreated stones, willing to pay the premium prices such stones command and to accept that completely natural untreated stones may only be found in smaller sizes or with visible inclusions. Other buyers appreciate that heat treatment produces attractive gems at more affordable prices, putting them within reach of a wider audience.

As long as sellers disclose the true state of the gems they are selling, and buyers are fully informed about what they are getting, heat treatment and other forms of gemstone enhancement are an accepted part of the jewelry trade. This is why it is important to only work with scrupulous dealers, so that you can trust a stone they present as untreated is the real deal.

If you’re looking for high-end jewelry at below-market prices, Auction King is your source for authenticated finds, with bids starting as low as $1. We combine the excitement and value of a live auction with the convenience of online shopping. Register today for a free online account to start bidding.

Spotlight on February’s Birthstone: Amethyst

Amethyst is the classic purple gem, a stone with a long history that starts with its prized status since ancient times. Associated with both royalty and with religious uses in both Eastern and Western faiths, amethyst was quite rare and therefore quite expensive until the 18th century, when it cost as much as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Then the discovery of massive deposits of amethysts in Brazil brought the price down dramatically. For those with February birthdays, this means that owning a beautiful example of their birthstone is an affordable proposition.

Spotlight on February's Birthstone Amethyst

Amethyst’s use in many cultures has given rise to extensive legends and lore. In fact, its name comes from the Greek word “amethystos,” which means not drunk, referring to the ancient Greek belief that the stone would protect its wearer from becoming intoxicated. Amethysts also became associated with royalty due to their hue—purple cloth was once outrageously expensive to produce, due to the scarcity of the dye-producing materials for that color, and so was worn only by royalty, who were the only ones who could afford it. Thus purple amethyst became associated with royalty as well, and can still be found in the crown jewel collections of many royal families today.

300.00ctw Amethyst Parcel

Even though it is now more readily available than in antiquity, amethyst is still the most prized variety of quartz gem. With a Mohs hardness of 7, it is a relatively scratch-resistant stone suitable for use in all kinds of jewelry. Amethyst is found in South America, North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The single greatest factor in determining the value of an amethyst is its color. Amethyst frequently displays color zoning, which means that areas of a single stone may display different intensity of color. A stone with noticeable color zoning will be less valuable than a stone with consistent color throughout. Also, a stone with a strong purple or reddish-purple hue will be more valuable than a lighter-hued stone, as long as the color is not too dark. Exceptionally dark amethysts can lose some of their brightness, and even appear black in low light.

10.00ct Amethyst and 0.40ctw Sapphire Pendant Necklace

Faceted amethysts can almost always be found without eye-visible inclusions; such inclusions tend to reduce the value of the stone, unless the color is exceptionally superior. Amethysts with good color but which have many inclusions are usually cut as cabochons or beads. Amethysts are routinely cut into calibrated sizes and into all kinds of standard shapes. Its price does not rise dramatically as its carat size increases, which makes it a popular choice for a piece of jewelry with a large center stone.

If you’re looking to add amethyst to your jewelry wardrobe, your budget will go further at Auction King. Our convenient online format gives you the experience of participating in a live auction from the comfort of your own home (or on the go, if you download our app). With bids starting as low as $1, you can find extraordinary deals on amethyst pendants, necklaces, rings, and more. Sign up for a free online account today to get started.

The Easy Way to Do Good: Hosting a Live Online Charity Auction on Auction King

Whether they are supporting a local animal shelter or providing fresh water to underprivileged communities in foreign countries, nonprofits large and small all face the same challenge—how to raise the funds to continue their mission. Donors can tune out repeated appeals for direct donations over time, which makes it crucial to come up with alternative ways to both raise money and engage your donor community at the same time.

Hosting a Live Online Charity Auction on Auction King

Charity auctions are an exciting way to get your supporters involved, but historically they’ve had limitations. In the past, to hold an auction, you’d usually have to host an event, which could be an expensive proposition in its own right, and gather the items to auction off, which is both time-consuming and difficult. After all of that, your auction participants would be limited to people who were able to attend in person, leaving out anybody who didn’t live in your area or who had a scheduling conflict.

Thankfully, technology has offered a solution to the limitations of an in-person auction. Online auctions now allow charities to reach out to more of their supporters through the internet, giving them an opportunity to bid that they might have missed out on before. However, many such auctions only offer the online equivalent of a silent auction, where attendees bid on an item by writing their name down on a bid sheet with a competing bid for a set period of time. These are easier to run, because they don’t require a skilled auctioneer conducting the bidding, but they tend to have a lower rate of return than a live auction. And they still require your organization to provide whatever is to be auctioned off, which can be a strain for volunteers and staff alike.

Rolex DateJust Watch

Now, Auction King gives your charity the easiest and best possible way to host a charity auction—a live auction in an online format, where we provide the high-quality items known to produce the best returns at auction, and which are often the hardest for nonprofits to get donated. Our experienced auctioneers heighten the excitement to encourage your supporters to bid more often. The competition of head-to-head bidding also tends to inspire bidders to bid higher, netting you more for your charity. You collect a percentage on all items sold.

Dwight Howard Signed Basketball

When you work with Auction King to host your charity auction, we set up a dedicated URL for you to direct supporters to your auction. We can also help you send an email blast out to let your donors know about your event. Our secure, easy-to-use proprietary bidding platform makes it convenient for your supporters to participate with confidence from wherever they are. Most importantly, our experienced live auctioneers run your auction from start to finish, using their expertise to keep the bidding lively, fun, and lucrative for your nonprofit.

Our goal is to give our charity auction clients the same superior customer service and satisfying live-auction experience that we provide for all of our customers. If your organization is interested in hosting a live online auction with Auction King, contact us today with your information and preferred date. We look forward to helping your nonprofit meet its goals.