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!