March 26, 2014
By Doug Cantor | auctions

Guernsey’s Puts Rare Guitars on the Auction Block
Guernsey’s / Paul Schraub

New York–based Guernsey’s has presented some of the preeminent artifacts of modern music during its existence, including highly sought-after items from the Beatles, Elvis Presley and John Coltrane. The nearly 40-year-old auction house continues that tradition with the Artistry of the Guitar, an exquisite collection of 265 rare acoustic guitars from master builders of the 19th and 20th centuries. The two-day event (April 2–3) will take place at the Bohemian National Hall (321 E. 73rd St.) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The guitars up for bidding belonged to an anonymous collector, but a quick glance through the catalogue makes it hard to believe that they were all in the possession of a single person. The collection includes vintage models from Martin, Gibson, Gretsch and many others, as well as pieces crafted by master luthiers such as John D’Angelico.

“The historical importance of these guitars is unparalleled—these are the instruments that laid the foundation of the guitar industry as we know it,” says Guitar Aficionado editor in chief Chris Gill. “This collection captures the transition as old-world handcraftsmanship merged with Industrial Revolution production techniques, creating very rare, high-quality instruments that showcase the various manufacturers’ creativity when they were really emerging and reaching their peak.”

Among the many gems for sale is a 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe, one of only 14 ever made. A guitar made by Spanish master Antonio de Torres in 1862, a 1934 D’Angelico Excel and a 1936 Epiphone Emperor are also on the block. If you can’t make it to the auction in person, bid online at, or 212-794-2280;

April 24, 2013
By Erin Schumaker | auctions

A Bit of El Bulli Comes to New York
Courtesy Sotheby’s

Those still mourning the death of El Bulli restaurant—the famed Catalonia-based eatery by chef Ferran Adrià and Juli Soler that captivated the world with its cutting-edge gastronomy before shuttering in 2011—can take a piece of the restaurant home at Sotheby’s El Bulli auction in New York on April 26.

The offerings include a set of El Bulli knives (opening bid: $1,000), a selection of Baroque metal trays (opening bid: $150) and four chef jackets signed by Adrià (opening bid: $1,000 each), as well as thousands of premium vintage bottles from the restaurant’s wine cellar, many of which are signed by Adrià and Soler. The highlight of the auction will be the chance to bid on a dinner with the chef himself (opening bid: $5,000) at Tickets restaurant in Barcelona.

“Each of the pieces has a special importance,” says Adrià. “They mean a lot to the history of El Bulli and to me personally.”

The New York auction comes on the heels of a sister event in Hong Kong, which took place on April 3 and raised more than $1.8 million for the El Bulli Foundation, a project that is transforming the original restaurant space into a permanent collection focused on creativity, cuisine and history, as well as funding Bullipedia, an archive of culinary record.

As for those exquisite bottles of wine up for grabs, one would think it would be tough to part with them. But Adrià says it is gratifying to see the sale of the cellar make an exciting venture like the El Bulli Foundation a reality. “Besides,” he explains, “I know they have fallen into the hands of people who love the world of wine, gastronomy and El Bulli.” April 26; 1334 York Ave.; 212-606-7000;

January 29, 2013
By Francesca Giacco | auctions

Out Of Africa

Courtesy of Bonhams

There are few cinematic scenes as evocative and romantic as Meryl Streep and Robert Redford’s flight across British East Africa in the 1985 Academy Award–winning film Out of Africa. On February 7 at the Grand Palais in Paris, Bonhams—one of the world’s oldest and largest auction houses—is selling the iconic biplane used in the movie. The aircraft, a metal-framed De Havilland Gipsy Moth from 1929, was one of the first models to bring private aviation within reach in the early 20th century and is fully functional today after a full engine overhaul in 2011.

After its spectacular flights in Tanzania and Nairobi in Out of Africa, the biplane has been used regularly and expertly maintained. “Bonhams is, of course, delighted to present this modern piece of memorabilia in such a magnificent venue, steeped in the history of the motorcar,” says Philip Kantor, the specialist at Bonhams in charge of the sale. A rare chance to own a coveted piece of Hollywood history, this is not to be missed. Estimate price upon request; 21 Ave. Franklin Delano Roosevelt;

November 28, 2012
By Ingrid Skjong | auctions


© Courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Whether attracting collectors hot on the trail of an intriguing find or strategic shoppers after a treasure at an excellent price, the Holiday Luxury Auction (December 4), spearheaded by Heritage Auctions, is a veritable jackpot. “We travel to clients across the United States, North America and worldwide to curate an auction of the most sought-after accessories,” says Matt Rubinger, director of luxury accessories. “Because we do the largest auctions in this category, we get offered quite a bit of product, most of which we end up turning down.”

The most collectible pieces include exotic Chanel and ultra-scarce Hermès—like a black crocodile Paris-Biarritz travel bag and an exceedingly rare diamond-and-black-crocodile Birkin, respectively. (The same Birkin—one of many on the block—in red sold last year for a record-shattering $203,150.) Even the most fervent collectors in the world have not seen many of the goods.

The third-largest auction house in the world, Heritage Auctions will hold the sale online and in Dallas. “We are the only house that dedicates a full auction, a full catalog and serious expertise to these very valuable pieces,” says Rubinger. And that bodes well this time of year, when a special little something could be the next item up for sale. December 4;

April 20, 2012
By Francesca Giacco | auctions

Free Arts NYC Annual Art Auction
Richard Serra

On Monday, Free Arts NYC hosts its 13th Annual Art Auction in partnership with online art marketplace Paddle 8. Free Arts NYC, which provides art and mentoring programs for the city's neediest children, has gathered an accomplished group of New York luminaries to serve on the event's host committee, including Sean Avery, Jenna Lyons, and Padma Lakshmi. This year's auction will be conducted by Alexander Gilkes, co-founder of Paddle8, at the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center in Chelsea. The evening will include both silent and live auctions featuring works from renowned artists like Richard Serra and Yoko Ono with prices ranging from $1000 to $25000—all proceeds will benefit Free Arts NYC. Tickets start at $200;

April 11, 2012
By Francesca Giacco, Jordan Kisner | auctions

BAM Celebrates 150 Years with an Auction
Matthew Ritchie, Terce, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York / Paddle8

Long revered as the dominant cultural hub of the outer boroughs, the Brooklyn Academy of Music—or BAM, as it’s affectionately known—turns 150 this year. To celebrate, the company is collaborating with online art marketplace Paddle8 to present an online auction of over 100 pieces by notable artists, including photographs by Andy Warhol, a print from illustrator Maira Kalman and a new work by William Kentridge, whose films and drawings were the subject of a hugely popular retrospective at MoMA in 2010. All the proceeds will go to benefit BAM, and while the bidding is entirely digital, all of the works up for auction are installed in BAM’s lobby for the event’s two-week duration, alongside bidding stations. On April 22, BAM will host a free closing day celebration in the lobby, where guests can wander among the works, meet the artists and sip cocktails.

To showcase BAM’s distinguished history, Paddle8 has created exclusive editorial content to complement the online auction. There are rare materials from BAM’s Hamm Archives, including art prints, photographs and a video of the 1968 dance collaboration between Merce Cunningham, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. “Benefit auctions are so common, and often they get decontextualized. You lose sight of what you’re trying to raise money for,” says Holly Greenfield, director of For Good, Paddle8’s nonprofit division. “This was our opportunity to help people engage in a more in-depth way, and to explore the amazing things BAM has been able to achieve in its 150 years.”

April 11–22,

March 28, 2012
By Francesca Giacco | auctions

Christie’s Annual Green Auction Opens Online
Will Ragozzino

Today marks the launch of Christie’s Third Annual Green Auction: “Bid to Save the Earth.” The auction—open online through charitybuzz until April 19th—will benefit water-conservation projects at four prominent environmental nonprofits: Oceana, Conservation International, the Central Park Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The worthy cause notwithstanding, there are plenty of reasons to bid: The lots include elite stays at five-star resorts in Thailand, Dubai and Anguilla; a private afternoon of shopping at Barney’s with Simon Doonan; courtside seats at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship; and VIP access to performances by James Taylor, Lady Antebellum and Alison Krauss. March 29–April 19;

November 15, 2011
By Rachel Wolff | auctions

Courtesy Phillips de Pury & Company

Their brightly colored plastic bands have been perennial fashion accessories since the 1980s. But some folks have been taking their Swatch collections more seriously than others. Now, one such patron is sending her comprehensive holdings (i.e., every single style produced by the Swiss watchmaker from 1983 to 2002) to the auction block. The Swatch Blum Collection of 4,363 watches will be sold together at Phillips de Pury & Company next week at a special sale and event in Hong Kong. It is expected to fetch between $3.5 million and $6.2 million. It also marks Phillips’ first outing in the region.

The sale—which will include exceedingly rare prototypes and limited edition designs from Keith Haring and Kiki Picasso—is generating serious buzz. “Everyone has a ‘Swatch moment’—one that they had, one that they desired,” says Finn Dombernowsky, a London-based managing director of Phillips de Pury & Company. “When they first came out, they renewed the watch industry. It was groundbreaking technology, but it also made good design available at a price anyone could reach.”

The Blum Collection won’t be the only coveted lot to hit the block that night. In collaboration with the company itself, Phillips is offering serious Swatch fanatics a rare opportunity to design a Swatch of their very own. It will be produced exclusively for the buyer in a limited edition of 100 and is expected to go for $20,000 to $25,000. Nov. 24, viewing 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., auction at 9 p.m.; the Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance St., Hong Kong;

August 31, 2011
By Rachel Wolff | auctions

Champagne supernova. Courtesy of Moët et Chandon.

Ever since 2008, when Hong Kong eliminated its 40 percent sales tax on wine, the region has become home to some of the world's most important fine wine auctions. Demand for wine has soared, especially from within Mainland China's newly moneyed class. "When people are successful, they want to enjoy the fruits of their success," says Charles Curtis, head of wine in Asia at Christie's. "The Chinese have come to see fine wine as part of that." It's unsurprising, then, that Christie's now regularly reserves some of its most exclusive lots for its Far East auctions. Standout offerings at the house's September 3 and 4 Hong Kong sales include an exceedingly rare (not to mention highly drinkable) case of 1911 Moët et Chandon Champagne, heading to the auction block directly from the winery itself. The six bottles, which come packaged in a black leather Louis Vuitton case, are expected to sell for about $55,000. Starstruck imbibers, up your bid: The lot also includes lunch with Moët's fetching spokesperson, the one and only Scarlett Johansson.

RSVP: Don't miss the Departures Asian art auction at Sotheby's, in New York, on September 13