12 Golden Highlights from The Midas Touch

Two 18ct gold Asprey & Garrard enamel vases
Launch Slideshow

For over six millennia, gold has captivated and dazzled mankind, denoting glamour, prosperity, holiness and status. Sotheby's October sales, The Midas Touch and The Midas Touch Online, being held online and in London, celebrate the most revered material on earth and include everything from ancient artefacts to contemporary artworks and fabulous jewelry. Click through for highlights dating from the 8th century to the present day.

12 Golden Highlights from The Midas Touch

  • Yves Klein, Monogold sans titre (MG 44), 1961.
    Estimate £800,000–1,200,000
    “Gold is the sun; to make gold is to be God.”

    Exh. Cat., Houston, Institute for the Arts, Rice University, Yves Klein 1928-1962: A Retrospective, 1982, p.14.
  • A pair of large 18ct gold and plique-a-jour enamel vases, Asprey & Garrard, London 1998.
    Estimate £200,000–300,000
    This monumental pair of 18ct gold vases are delicately embellished with plique-a-jour enamel, a highly complex method that creates a uniquely translucent and colourful finish.
  • A gilt-bronze mounted crystal “Elephant” liqueur set by Baccarat, circa 1880.
    Estimate £250,000–400,000
    Inspired by a project of a huge fountain commissioned by Napoléon as a pendant to the Arc de Triomphe, this rare liqueur set was made by Baccarat for or just after the Exposition Universelle of 1878.
  • Gold repoussé of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Vietnam, Kingdom of Champa, late 7th/ early 8th Century.
    Estimate £80,000–100,000
    Portrayed with the beauty of youth, a gentle smile contrasting with frowned eyebrows and intense spiritual gazing eyes, this very powerful figure likely represents the Bodhisattve Avalokiteshvarna in his aspect of Jatamakuta-Lokesvara the “Lord of the World”.
  • Marc Quinn, Song of the Siren, 2010.
    Estimate £300,000–400,000
    Quinn says of the works: "Human beings often create images, begin to worship them and then forget the images were initially invented by them. They are left with an abstract image that is impossible to measure up to. This is the basis of all celebrity and religious imagery. Gold is a metal that humans have decided is one of the most valuable materials in the world, but like their invented images of perfection, gold itself is a belief system - inherently no more valuable than any other metal. By casting Sphinx in gold, Siren creates an image of all the impossible dreams that lure people to wreck their lives on the rocky shore of reality - the ultimate hallucination which drives humans to madness."
  • An Imperial carved giltwood ceremonial armchair, 1804, commissioned for Napoleon's Throne Room at the Tuileries.
    Estimate £200,000–300,000
    This very rare ceremonial armchair is the only surviving example known to the present day of the six armchairs commissioned for Napoleon’s Throne Room in the Imperial Palace of the Tuileries.
  • Giovanni Corvaja, Pentagonal Brooch, 2013.
    Estimate £25,000–35,000
    “Everything started because of my passion and fascination about metals. Ever since I was a child I found metals to be very interesting: the way they feel to the touch, the way they reflect the light, the way they absorb so quickly the warmth of our hands, their malleability and ductility were like miracles for me. In the earth metals are very common, but, because at its origin the earth was hot and melted, most of it collapsed to the centre, forming the earth’s core: a giant ball of melted iron. Most probably the heavier of those metals are in the inner core…I am convinced that the soul of the earth is a huge sphere of gold and platinum, or at least, that is how I like to imagine it.”
    Giovanni Corvaja
  • Wei Ligang, Thatched Cottage Beside the Water Lined with Phoenix-Tail Fern Moistened in the Mist, 2016.
    Estimate £50,000–70,000
    Wei Ligang’s active explorations in Chinese calligraphy and painting draw upon a long history of Chinese arts and culture, placing him at the forefront of contemporary ink painting.
  • Kelly Walker, Recycle Sign.
    Estimate £20,000–30,000
    The recycle sign is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic symbols of Kelly Walker’s complex and multi-faceted oeuvre, at the heart of which lies a profound interest in the appropriation and re-contextualisation of symbols of popular culture
  • Jacobello Del Fiore, The Madonna Of Humility.
    Estimate £50,000–70,000
    "The present panel is remarkable for its delicate tooled gold ground, chromatic richness, and well-preserved glazes, which create a sophisticated sense of volume... The Christ Child, meanwhile, wears a cloak of gold lavishly adorned with elaborate punchwork, also alluding to his divine status."
    Everett Fahy quoted in 2012
  • Ormond Gigli, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 1959.
    Estimate £4,000–6,000
    Whilst best known for his celebrated fashion photographs of the 50s and 60s, Gigli also worked for numerous news magazines including LIFE, Paris Match and The Saturday Evening Post, for which this image was commissioned . Offering us a rare glimpse of the gold vault at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Gigli asked if he could move some of the gold bars on to the scales to get a better shot. The custodians advised that they do this, lest Gigli was to drop a bar on his foot as he wasn’t wearing the correct protective footwear that can just be seen in this captured shot.
  • David Bowie
    Two Record Awards
    Platinum award for Let’s Dance, 1983 and Gold award for Tonight, 1984
    Estimate £2,000-3,000
    Let’s Dance and Tonight were Bowie’s fifteenth and sixteenth studio albums, respectively. Let’s Dance was Bowie’s bestselling album with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. Produced by Nile Rodgers, Rolling Stone later described it as "the conclusion of arguably the greatest 14-year run in rock history".
  • Ian Fleming, The Man with the Golden Gun, Uncorrected proof copy, 1964.
    Estimate £1,500–2,000
    Written at Goldeneye in 1964, The Man with the Golden Gun follows 007 as he outsmarts Francisco Scaramanga through a plot of sabotage, arms deals, narcotics smuggling and the sugar cane industry in Fleming’s adopted home of Jamaica. This uncorrected proof copy contains over 20 textual variations and errors that were changed before the book’s publication in 1965.

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