Most Intriguing Auctions of 2023

picasso hung
Pablo Picasso's ‘Femme à la Montre’ Credit: Smithsonian Magazine

Auction houses across the globe collected unimaginable artefacts and paintings and made some unbelievable sales of their existence, among others. In this article, we are going to explore such interesting moments in the auction world in 2023.

From Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Roseberys, and Wright to the Drouot auction house in Paris, some of the most amazing works of art were auctioned for several millions of euros.

Capping the November auction season was a 1932 masterpiece of Pablo Picasso’s young mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter as it sold for $139.4 million during a New York auction by Sotheby’s. The auction which took place on Wednesday, November 9, saw the Femme à la Montre painting stay on the auction block for four minutes as three collectors battled for ownership on the phone. The eventual highest bidder is, however, anonymous. The amount Picasso’s work was bought for stays as the highest grossing auction sale in 2023 and also the second highest amount a Picasso artwork has been bought.

Another notable event in the auction market is the sale of a felt hat believed to have belonged to  Napoleon Bonaparte for a record €1,932,000 ($2.11 million) at the Drouot auction house in Paris on Sunday, November 19, 2023. An official of the Drouot auction house shared that the ‘Napoleon’ hat was initially estimated at 600,000 to 800,000 euros. Adding the price beat the 1.8 million euros paid for another Napoleon hat at Drouot in 2014.

The most recent shakeup in the art market is the discovery of a Carlo Scarpa vase that was nonchalantly tucked away at a thrift store in Virginia. This discovery was made by Jessica Vincent who bought the vase for €3.65. After posting a picture of the base of the vase in a Facebook glassware group, Jessica uncovered that she was holding a precious gem made by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa in 1942 for the country’s leading glass company, Venini, during his time as its creative director. This masterpiece was auctioned at Wright Auction House for €91,568 on Wednesday, December 13. The vase before its listing was estimated to sell between €27,453.60 and €45,756.

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