Record auction sales in 2021

Record auction sales in 2021

2021 may have been the year of the NFT, but wealthy collectors still dropped big bucks on physical items. This included the usual objects like paintings and cars, as well as some more obscure objects like meteorites.

To better understand the world of rare collectibles, this infographic summarizes the biggest auctions of 2021, broken down into 12 different item categories.

Numbers

Key details of these sales are listed below in tabular form. Some broke all-time records, while others set the 2021 record specifically.

Object Category Sale price (USD) auction house
Woman Seated by a Window by Pablo Picasso Paintings $103.4M Christie’s
Final text of the United States Constitution Printed texts $43.2M Sotheby’s
15.81 carat Sakura diamond Pink-Purple Diamonds $29.3 million Christie’s
1995 McLaren F1 Cars $20.5M Gooding & Company
1933 Double Eagle coin Coins $18.9M Sotheby’s
The gun used to kill Billy the Kid Fire arms $6.0M Bonham
Grande and Petite Sonnerie Watches $5.3M Phillips
1993 Ron Arad “D-Sofa” Furniture $1.6M Phillips
Pair of Nike Air Ships by Michael Jordan Shoes $1.5M Sotheby’s
Necklace adorned with a 56.87 carat emerald emeralds $1.0M Phillips
4.5 billion year old Fukang meteorite Meteorites $702,000 Christie’s
Hermes Black Togo Birkin 35 Hand bags $155,000 Bonham

The details

Here are some interesting facts and details about these rare collectibles, starting with:

Woman Seated Near a Window by Pablo Picasso (Marie-Thérèse)

This painting from 1932 is a representation of Picasso’s lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter (1909-1977). Walter is thought to have had a significant impact on Picasso’s work, and the couple had a child out of wedlock in 1935.

He loved the blondeness of her hair, her luminous complexion, her sculptural body.
– Brassai

Sold by Christie’s in New York, it is the first painting to be auctioned for more than $100 million in nearly two years. The all-time record holder is Leonardo da Vinci Salvator Mundisold for $450 million in 2016 to Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

1995 McLaren F1

Produced between 1992 and 1998, the McLaren F1 is widely regarded as one of the world’s most desirable supercars. It features many innovations still rare in modern road cars, including a carbon fiber monocoque (the main structure of the car), active aerodynamics on the underbody and a centered driving position.

F1’s legacy is cemented by the fact that only 106 examples were produced, many of which were owned by celebrities. This includes Elon Musk, who crashed his F1 in 2000 without insurance.

The specific car highlighted above was sold by Gooding & Company, a classic car auction company. He just 242 miles (390 kilometers) on the clock, which translates to an average of 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) driven on the road per year.

1933 double eagle coin

The 1933 Double Eagle is one of the last $20 gold coins never produced in the United States. This dates back to a time when the value of the US dollar was tied to gold, which is a system known as the gold standard. The coins were melted down when the United States switched to fiat currency, and only 13 examples are known to exist today.

After selling for $18.9 million, this Double Eagle holds the title of the most valuable rare coin in the world.

The gun used to kill Billy the Kid

The Colt single-action revolver that was used to kill Billy the Kid is now the most expensive firearm ever sold at auction. It belonged to Sheriff Pat Garrett, who killed Billy in 1881.

Billy is one of the most notorious figures of the American Wild West era and was responsible for the deaths of eight men, including two sheriff’s deputies during a prison break.

Due to Billy’s heritage, this revolver is considered one of the most sought after western firearms. Surprisingly, this was the weapon’s first appearance at a public auction.

Final text of the United States Constitution

This copy of the first edition of the US Constitution is an incredibly rare and historically significant artifact. The story of how it sold is equally impressive.

The bidding came down to two parties, one of which was Ken Griffin, billionaire CEO of Citadel. If you’re an investor, that name might sound familiar: Citadel was a hedge fund involved in the 2021 r/wallstreetbets saga.

The other part was ConstitutionDAO, a group of over 17,000 crypto investors who pooled $47 million worth of Ethereum. The term “DAO” refers to a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, which is an online entity collectively owned by its members with no centralized direction and which operates based on transparent rules defined on a public blockchain.

In the end, the copy was sold to Griffin for a total of $43.2 million. ConstitutionDAO organizers could not place a higher bid because they would not have had enough money to insure, store and transport the document.

About those NFTs…

NFTs only exist in the digital realm, but they have quickly become one of the most valuable collectibles in the world. What is the value, you may ask?

For starters, consider the $7.6 million sale of CryptoPunk #3100, an NFT profile picture (PFP) that depicts a blue zombie. So there is Fusion, a digital work composed of 312,686 pieces. In December 2021, it was sold to a collective of 28,983 buyers who, in total, paid $91.8 million.

All of this hype has led some of the oldest auction houses in the world to start selling NFTs through online events. This includes Christie’s (founded in 1766), which surpassed $100 million in NFT auctions in less than a year.

One wonders if this momentum can continue. Interest in NFTs has plummeted and crypto markets remain incredibly volatile.


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