2017 was a strong year for the art world, including the $450 million dollar sale of a Leonardo da Vinci painting, a blockbuster fashion exhibition, and a city-wide Latin American art initiative.
From objects owned by Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher to Cartier’s iconic tank watches, collectors have been able to acquire a wide variety of fascinating objects at auction throughout 2017. With another exciting year of auctions in the books, our editors reviewed the Invaluable archives to discover the top 10 items sold on our platform in 2017, in order of realized price.
1. A Chinese Bronze Food Vessel
Realized Price: £190,000
Chinese bronze objects are part of an artistic tradition that stretches back to 2000 B.C. Ritual items like this food vessel were often used for important social functions. The earliest Chinese bronzes were made using the piece-mold casting, a sculptor’s technique where bronze can be removed from the cast in pieces and assembled into the final form.
2. “Per una situazione, 1963” by Paolo Scheggi
Realized Price: €140,000
Paolo Scheggi was an Italian abstract painter whose technique involved experiments with light in shallow spaces. He is known for monochromatic canvases that often featured carved, overlapping ovals. A native of Florence, Scheggi traveled around Italy and to London. He eventually met members of Group Zero, a movement of abstract artists based in Dusseldorf, Germany who rejected the expressionist conventions of abstract art and embraced nihilism.
3. A 1957 BMW 503 Coupe
Realized Price: £115,000
The BMW 503 Coupe was manufactured in the second half of the 1950s. This two-door touring car combined aspects of a luxury sedan and a sports car into its sleek, contemporary design. Due to its complicated manufacturing techniques, a limited number of cars were produced over just three years. Boasting 62 miles per hour in just 13 seconds, this elegant vehicle is now a rare collectible.
4. “Ukulele Player” by Alex Katz
Realized Price: $120,000
Alex Katz was a New York School painter. Katz is known for his brightly colored figurative and landscape paintings, which demonstrate a flat style reminiscent advertising and cinema. His art generally adheres to the same conceptual concerns of Pop Art. As an icon of the 1950s and 1960s, Alex Katz is extremely popular among collectors.
5. A Moai Kavakava Easter Island Figure
Realized Price: £117,800
Moai Kavakava figures are small wooden statues, similar in style to the giant head sculptures at Rapa Nui on Easter Island. The term “mo’ai kavakava” translates to “ribs,” aptly describing the thin stature of these standing figures. Though very little is known about the cultural context of Moai Kavakava figures, they are thought to be representations of starved demons. It was common for them to be worn as neck charms at public ceremonies. This object is a recent copy of the traditional sculptures.
6. Berlin KPM Porcelain Munich Form Vase
Realized Price: €130,200
The Royal Porcelain Factory in Berlin was founded in 1763 when Frederick II of Prussia (Frederick the Great) bought a working factory from a businessman in Berlin. At first, The Royal Porcelain Factory produced dinnerware services and vases in the Rococo style. Gradually, the company began to design objects influenced by the Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, and New Objectivity movements. Fine craftsmanship and rich history keep these porcelain pieces in high demand at auction.
7. A 1974 Ferrari 365 GT
Realized Price: €101,932
Ferrari is famous for its long history of manufacturing precision sports cars. The 1974 365 GT/4 BB is considerably rarer than those produced before and after. The 1974 model was derived from the designs of Formula One cars, and was a product of two years of research and production. Only 387 were built in subsequent years, making the car one of the rarest models.
8. “Indian Smoke Lodge” by Joseph Henry Sharp
Realized Price: $95,000
Joseph Henry Sharp enrolled at the McMicken School of Design in Cincinnati at the young age of fourteen to cultivate his artistic abilities. Subsequent travels to Europe, New Mexico, and the Columbia River Basin spurred his interest in capturing landscapes. After studying at the Cincinnati Art Academy and the Taos Society of Artists, the artist began to make paintings about the lives of the Plains Indians. Sharp’s dynamic portraits and landscapes incorporate rich carmine and brown hues.
9. A 2000 Ferrari 550 Maranello
Realized Price: €95,936
The Ferrari 550 Maranello is another example of Ferrari’s sustained popularity across many decades. The Maranello model is a coupe built by Ferrari from 1996 to 2002. The 550 Maranello incorporated a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and was produced in limited quantities; only 448 examples of this car were ever made.
10. An Imperial Gilt-Bronze Double Gourd Shrine
Realized Price: $90,000
This Buddha shrine from the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty was cast to accommodate 9 identical gilt-bronze Manjusri figures. The gilded exterior is decorated with lotus sprays and a flowing ribbon and topped with a large coral bead. Each Manjusri figure is cast seated in dhyanasana on a double lotus base with the right hand raised wielding a sword and the left in vitarkamudra holding the stem of a lotus flower.