Top 10 Most Expensive Items Sold At Auctions

One question often asked by hardcore antique fans and collectors alike is, “What are the most expensive items ever sold at auctions?” . No comic books, action figures or other licensed collectibles even come close to what these top 10 items got sold for. From Gigayachts to Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday Mr. President Dress, here is a of the most expensive items sold at auctions.


1. Gigayacht:


One of the most expensive items to ever be auctioned on eBay was the gigayacht. The gigayacht sold for a record breaking $168 million. The 405-ft boat was designed by naval architect Frank Mulder and sold by a Florida company called 4Yacht. It came complete with a helicopter garage and 14 multilevel VIP Suites.


2. Nude Green Leaves and Bust by Pablo Picasso


This painting was sold at Christie’s in New York on May 4, 2010 for $106,482,500.

”Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” is a part of the sequence of paintings of Picasso’s muse, Marie-Therese Walter, made by the artist at Boisgeloup, Normandy, in early 1932. They are widely regarded as among his greatest achievements during the inter-war period.”

The painting, which has been lent to the gallery by a private collector, will be on display in a new Pablo Picasso room in the Poetry and Dream wing on Level 3 of the building.


3. L’Homme Qui March I by Albert Giacometti


This Giacometti sculpture sold at Sotehby’s in London on February 3, 2010 for $103,700,000.

The sculpture was billed as the star of the auction and everyone expected it to sell well and it did. A sweepstake among dealers predicted it would go for around £40million.  It went for more.

The etiolated, life-size figure of a man walking was placed to the left of the auctioneer’s rostrum and the opening bid was £12m. There were gasps as the price passed £35m, laughter at £50m.

I guess no one cared about the recession as as many as ten people had the funds to keep the bids going past £30m – all of them ignoring the auctioneer’s £18m pre-sale estimate. WOW!


4. Qianlong Vase

qianlong vase

This vase sold  for $53 million.

This is the most expensive Chinese vase that was sold at Bainbridges Auction House in just 30 minutes of bidding. It was actually an 18th century origin that believed to be in present during the Qing Dynasty period under the reign of the 4th emperor. It is 16 inches tall and you could find engravings of fishes that serve as its adornments.


5. The Graff Pink

The Graff Pink

This Graff Pink Diamond weighing 24.78 carats and mounted in a ring was sold for $46,000,000 at Sotheby’s in Geneva.

The rectangular diamond was bought by the British billionaire jeweller Laurence Graff, 72.

Dubbed ‘The King of Bling’ – Mr Graff said that he had bought the gem for himself and immediately named it ‘The Graff Pink’, of course after him.

He paid nearly double the previous record which was for the 17th century stone the ‘Wittelsbach’ blue diamond two years ago. What a lucky lady would any girl be to get such a ring.


6. 18th Century Badminton Cabinet

Badminton Cabinet

This ebony wood inlaid with precious gems 18th century badminton cabinet was sold at Christie’s on December 9, 2004 for $36,662,106. 

It’s truly a monumental piece of 18th-century furniture that twice set the record for most expensive piece of furniture to ever be sold.

The Badminton Cabinet, or Badminton Chest, was commissioned by Henry Somerset, 3rd Duke of Beaufort, at the age of 19. It took thirty experts  and 6 years to make and came to be named after the Duke’s country seat, Badminton House in Gloucestershire, England, where it remained until it was auctioned by his descendants in the late 20th century.

The ebony cabinet sits at over 12 feet tall and shows scenes rendered in pietre dure—inlaid finely cut, polished and coloured stones, including in this case a number of semi-precious stones. The clock face set at the top of the cabinet is marked with fleurs-de-lis.

The Badminton Cabinet became the highest-priced piece of furniture in the world when it was first auctioned for £8.58m million in 1990 and  then again set the record when it was auctioned again in 2004, this time for £19 million.


7. Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Hammer

Leonardo DaVinci Manuscript

This manuscript got sold for $30,802,500 in 1994.

Leonardo da Vinci, the true Renaissance man he was, meticulously recorded his thoughts, musings and sketches in journals throughout his life. Of the 30 that still remain, his most famous is the Codex Hammer, named for the British nobleman who acquired the 72-page journal in 1717. Three years after Bill Gates bought the historic diary, he released a digitally scanned version for all the world to enjoy. Now it has been sold again this time for one hefty price.

He was not always as successful as we think of him today. Throughout his life Leonardo da Vinci was plagued by a sense of failure, in-completion and time wasted. His favorite phrase, which he unconsciously repeated  to himself whenever he scribbled something to see if a newly cut pen was working, was “Tell me, tell me if anything got finished.”

Indeed he did very little. His big projects for sculpture were never completed–the huge clay model for one of them, meant to commemorate his patron Ludovico Sforza, duke of Milan, ended up a shapeless mound, shot to pieces by occupying French archers.


8. Artemis & The Stag:

Artemis and the Stag

In 2007, Artemis and the Stag became the second highest priced sculpture ever to be sold at auction when an anonymous buyer purchased the relic for $28.6 million. The sculpture is over 2,000 years old and was built during the Roman empire. In the 1920′s, a team of construction workers stumbled upon it while digging in Rome, and they must be kicking themselves for not holding onto it now. The winning bid came as a surprise to some curators, who predicted it would sell for $7 million.


9. 1721 “Lady Blunt” Stradivarius Violin

Stradivarius Violin

This historic violin was sold at Tarisio Auction House for $15,894,000.

Confronted by the tragic events of the 11 March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear crisis, The Nippon Music Foundation made an extraordinary offer to assist in the recovery efforts of their native Japan.

In a gesture of profound generosity they decided to sell what is considered the finest violin of their collection, the ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius of 1721, and pledged the entire proceeds of the sale to The Nippon Foundation’s Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.  Very Generous Indeed!


10. Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” Dress

Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday Mr. President Dress

The Dress was sold in 1999 for $4,600,000.

When Marilyn Monroe delivered an engaging “Happy Birthday” serenade to President John F. Kennedy on May 19, 1962, the blonde bombshell wore a flesh-colored, curve-hugging, jewel-encrusted dress so tight and sheer that, according to reliable source, Monroe was sewn into the gown and wore nothing under it. Yikes!

It is rumored that the two had an affair and everyone could see from the way she presented the song, she was definitely in love.


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