SOLD!: Recent History’s Most Expensive Auctions

An array of amazing objects travel across auction blocks the world over, but some are capable of generating extraordinary amounts of both interest and the willingness to yield a very hefty winning bid. The globe’s ultra-wealthy have acquired such goods, and consequently get the bragging rights to winning some of recent history’s most expensive auctions.

Item: Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust
Winning Bid: $106.5 Million

After being under private ownership in Los Angeles for nearly six decades, this famed painting – featuring Picasso’s mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter – resulted in Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich‘s winning the auction at the record-breaking price within eight minutes of the piece hitting the auction block in 2010.

Item: Graff Pink Diamond
Winning Bid: $44.8 Million

Even though pink diamonds are said to be the world’s rarest and most expensive, this particular 24.78-carat sparkler has an added edge through incredible previous ownership. The rare jewel was once owned by the famed American celebrity jeweler Harry Winston and, in 2010, was auctioned through Sotheby’s to British billionaire Laurence Graff. The stunning stone is somewhat legendary because of its supposed ability to disperse light it absorbed as it formed in the earth over millions of years.

Item: Cloisonné Enamel Double Crane Censers
Winning Bid: $16.7 Million

After recent news revealing that the Chinese spent about $10.8 billion at art and collectable objects auctions last year, it is of little surprise that these gorgeous cloisonné cranes were won by Joseph Lau, a billionaire Hong Kong real estate investor – and one of the country’s richest men. Although the cloisonné technique is still prevalent in Chinese art nowadays, the value of this lot came from the fact that they were personally commissioned by Emperor Qianlong and remained a part of his private collection throughout his reign.

Item: The Birds of America by John James Audubon
Winning Bid: $10.3 Million

If you thought textbooks cost a pretty penny back in college, you’re probably not familiar with this book. Purchased by renowned London book dealer Michael Tollemache in 2010, the large book contains hand-colored, life-size prints made from engraved plates that measure 39 by 26 inches. First printed in the 1830s, only 119 copies were ever made, and copies to ever cross an auction block today are extremely rare.

Item: 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540k Roadster
[Estimated] Winning Bid: $8.25 Million+

Although this lot is slated to go for auction through RM Auctions in August of this year, it is already estimated to be the most expensive Mercedes-Benz to ever be auctioned off. Having graced the show fields at both the Amelia Island and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance events, the iconic vehicle is celebrated for its rarity, is said to be one of only three to exist today, and was last purchased in 2007 for $8.25 million by Formula 1 legend Bernie Ecclestone.

Item: Cindy Sherman Photographic Print
Winning Bid: $3.9 Million

This print, by famed American photographer and film director Cindy Sherman, fetched its whopping price after it hit the Christie’s auction block earlier this year. Dubbed “Untitled #96”, the print became the most expensive photograph to be sold at an auction and was purchased by Philippe Ségalot, former head of Christie’s contemporary art department and private art dealer. The photo of a girl in orange lying down is significant of Sherman’s characteristic challenging of the role and representation of women in society, media, and art.

Item: Vostok 3KA-2 Russian Space Artifact
Winning Bid: $2.88 Million

Before the Russian Vostok 1 was sent up into space, the Vostok 3KA preceded it on an experimental mission. Russian businessman Evgeny Yurchenko won the module this year, which was purchased for the purpose of donating it to a Russian science museum that displays historical artifacts from the history of the development of Russia’s space missions.

Photo via

Item: Armand De Brignac Midas Champagne
Winning Bid: $190,000

“Casino slayer” Don Johnson – credited as perhaps the world’s best gambler – purchased this exclusive bottle just recently, in late June of this year. Following Mark Cuban’s $90,000 purchase of Armand de Brignac in celebration of the Dallas Mavericks’ 2011 NBA Championship win, Johnson shattered the record for the most expensive bottle of champagne ever bought with his purchase of the Midas bottle through an exclusive London nightclub, One for One Park Lane. The enormous bottle – the equivalent of 40 regular-sized bottles – weighs 45 kg and required three men to carry it to the auction site.

Item: Cardboard Memorabilia Box
Winning Bid: $185,300

$185,300 is a hefty price to pay for a cardboard box, but this one, of course, is a little more special than your average box. Signed by Prince William and his new wife, the box is meant to hold child vaccinations. The daughter of Rupert Murdoch, Elisabeth, purchased the box this year, and the proceeds will be donated towards children’s healthcare across the globe, namely in the poorer nations.

Item: 200-Year-Old Veuve Clicquot
Winning Bid: $43,300

This bottle made headlines recently when it was discovered underwater during an excavation near the site of a shipwreck near Finland. Julia Sherstuyk, the owner of the Buyan chain of restaurants in Singapore, purchased the historic bottle soon after its discovery for use in the restaurants, hoping to educate patrons about wine history. It is now the oldest known bottle of champagne in the world.

[Source: Born Rich]