Precious Stones, Rare Watches and Top Vintages Power Record-Breaking $144M Luxury Auctions

Precious Stones, Rare Watches and Top Vintages Power Record-Breaking $144M Luxury Auctions

Two record-setting precious stones led nine auctions that collectively realized $144 million in the auction house’s most valuable Luxury Week ever presented in New York City.
Two record-setting precious stones led nine auctions that collectively realized $144 million in the auction house’s most valuable Luxury Week ever presented in New York City.

A pink diamond, a sanguine ruby, a salmon-dialed Patek. Collectors were enchanted by a spectrum of gems, watches, handbags, wines, spirits and more at Sotheby’s Luxury Week in New York, where the top lots were a ruby and a diamond that each sold for $38.4 million during the Magnificent Jewels auction on 8 June. Not only was it the first jewels auction ever to see two stones surpass the $30 million mark, it was also Sotheby’s highest-grossing Magnificent Jewels auction in New York. All told, the auction reached $95.9 million, making up the lion’s share of the week’s sales. And at $144 million, this June’s Luxury Week, presented by Silversea, was the most valuable that Sotheby’s has ever offered in the city.

 

Highlights from the Week

Leading the series was Estrela de Fura: 55.22, a deep purplish-hued ruby called “pigeon’s blood” in the industry. The geological wonder was the largest gem-quality ruby ever brought to auction, and after the massive Mozambican marvel sold to a collector in the Middle East, it became the world’s most valuable colored gemstone. Not to be outdone, a few lots later The Eternal Pink – in an otherworldly shade of fuchsia – passed the block with the same hammer price. At 10.57 carats, the cushion-cut Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond set an auction record for a diamond of its class and a per-carat record ($3.3 million) for its color grade.

The Eternal Pink ($38.4 million) set an auction record for a diamond of its class and a per-carat record for its color grade.

“Today, we witnessed the historic sale of not one but two of the most exquisite and important gemstones to ever hit the auction block,” says Quig Bruning, Head of Sotheby’s Jewels in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The record-setting 98-lot auction saw over 90 percent of its lots find new buyers (over a third above their high estimates), and was complemented a few days later by Fine Jewels, which realized $8.1 million across 255 lots, nearly a quarter of which exceeded their estimates.

The trend for pink continued in the Important Watches auction, which was led by a stunning “pink-on-pink” Patek Philippe ref. 1518 selling for $3.9 million. The rare perpetual calendar is the latest example of the growing desire for salmon dials in the watch market, sparked by a similar model once owned by the Prince of Egypt that set a watch record when it sold at Sotheby’s in 2021. But perhaps the most anticipated lots of Important Watches were two Rolex Daytonas – a ref. 16520 “Zenith” ($1.14 million) and a ref. 116519 ($1.08 million) – owned by none other than Paul Newman himself. (The watches were sold directly by Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman’s family, whose estate comprised a separate white-glove auction that reached $1.4 million last week.) Important Watches realized $16.4 million across 125 lots, followed by the sale of 295 watches for $4.7 million in Fine Watches. Across both sales, watches with exceptional provenance held a premium over watches without.

Two Rolex Daytonas owned by Paul Newman each sold for $1.1 million in Important Watches.

Luxury Week’s next highest-grossing auction was Handbags & Accessories, a 200-lot sale that saw 93 percent of the items find buyers. The auction’s first lot was its star: a limited-edition silver-metallic chèvre Birkin bag by Hermès, which sold for $101,600. Hermès handbags made up the bulk of the offerings, including three examples of the extremely sought-after Kelly Désordre bags, which have been exceedingly difficult for collectors to find outside of the secondary market. Later that day came HEAT, a curated sale of the most sought-after collaborations, rare samples and limited-edition sneakers on the market.

Images from left to right: Sotheby’s auctioneer Jacqueline Towers-Perkins presides over the Important Watches auction on 9 June. Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions’s head auctioneer, Frank Trunzo, presides over the Exceptional Global Properties auction on 14 June.

Wines and spirits presented an exceptionally strong showing throughout the week, especially during an impressive white-glove sale featuring Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, one of the greatest winemakers in Burgundy. The DRC auction surpassed its high estimate when all 34 lots sold for $3.2 million – 26 percent of them above their high estimates and another 9 percent coming in at the top of their estimates. The top three lots all set auctions records due to strong demand from collectors for pristine, banded cases and top vintages. A few days later the auction Whisky & Whiskey | Rare Finds from Scotland & Kentucky also surpassed its high estimate when all but three lots sold, led by a rare collaboration between Bowmore Distillery and Aston Martin and buoyed by an impressive array of Pappy Van Winkle and other whiskeys and whiskies.

The series also included six luxury properties from Sotheby’s International Realty, which attracted $110 million in aggregate bids, led by a $7.6 million condo in Miami, Florida that saw activity from 16 international bidders.

“This week’s outstanding results across the wide breadth of our Luxury Division demonstrate strong demand at the top end of the luxury market,” says Ian Ferreyra de Bone, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Sotheby’s Luxury Division, US. “Moreover, they also showcase the strength of the team we have in place to curate and sell the best of the best here at Sotheby’s.”

Luxury Week Auction Results

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