2000 Fukang Pallasite Meteorite
2021 SOLD for £ 525K by Christie's
#AuctionUpdate The most beautiful extraterrestrial substance known ̶ a monolithic slice of the Fukang meteorite sells for £525,000, a #WorldAuctionRecord for a #meteorite. This magnificent, otherworldly crystalline freeform dates to the birth of the solar system. ☄️ pic.twitter.com/nmBdA5ls1h— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) July 8, 2021
2017 Fragments of Moon
2018 SOLD for $ 610K including premium
Only a geological analysis makes it possible to know the origin of a meteorite. The surface of the Moon has a composition of a limited variety due to the absence of air and water and to its low gravity field. Lunar rocks account for less than 0.1% of the meteorite population.
A breccia weighing 1780 g voluntarily split into two halves was sold for $ 330K including premium by Heritage on October 14, 2012. It is typical of rocks on the far side of the Moon and was found in Dar al Gani in the Libyan Sahara.
In an online auction ending October 18, RR Auction sells a lunar breccia rock found in 2017 in Mauritania, lot 4004 estimated $ 500K. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
This meteorite is composed of six naturally separated fragments that fit perfectly like a puzzle for a total weight of 5.5 Kg. The largest piece weighs 2939 g and measures 180 x 150 x 105 mm. One of the faces of the reconstituted assembly shows traces of fusion generated by its descent into our atmosphere.
ASTOUNDING is the only word for it!#Meteorites in the new @RRAuction catalog include (we assume?) the largest & most unusual #moon rock ever offered at #auction— Meteorite Men (@MeteoriteMen) September 30, 2018
View online --> https://t.co/YYM45aW9mo#astronomy #space #auctions #geek #nerdvana #STEM #NASA #museums pic.twitter.com/xV6lreeS5q
1947 A Meteorite from the Nininger Collection
On April 6 online from Atlanta, Gallery 63 sells as lot 2 one of the largest known meteorites, which had belonged to Nininger. It measures 85 x 40 x 15 cm and weighs 177 kg. It is held on its base from two natural hollows.
Like all iron meteorites, it comes from the molten matter of an asteroid that exploded during the creation of the solar system four billion years ago somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. It was found in 1947 in the mountains above Vladivostok. It includes metals of the platinum group.
2006 Brazilian Geology
2015 SOLD for $ 275K including premium
Tourmaline is a group of chemically stable silicate minerals whose crystals can reach large linear developments. Their color range is considerable. The colors of tourmalines depend on their chemical composition and on their impurities but also on their sensitivity to the radiation emitted by the granites.
The recently extracted tourmalines are kept on their natural bedrock which is often a quartz. With their long, multi-directional crystals and the beauty of their colors, nature has created works of art.
The four top lots have very dissimilar characteristics, to the delight of fans.
Blue on blue, lot 73105 estimated $ 500K, collected in 2001, is interesting by its two shades of blue but also because the growth of crystals in two contradictory ways, thin and stout, is a scientific curiosity.
Big beauty, lot 73100 estimated $ 450K, collected in 2006, is remarkable for the complexity of its colors and shapes.
Blastoff, lot 73114 estimated $ 450K, collected in 2004, includes six crystals, the longest measuring 18 cm. The two longest are perched like birds on their beautiful natural base of white cleavelandite.
The flower of Pederneira, lot 73099 estimated $ 300K, collected in 2000, offers an incredible network of secondary ramifications attached to the main crystal.
Lot 73100 SOLD for $ 275K including premium.
Lots 73099, 73105 and 73114 are unsold.
2010 SOLD for € 460K by Sotheby's
Plesiosaurs became extinct at the same time as the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Its morphology reminds the legendary Loch Ness monster, narrated long before the first plesiosaur was unearthed, in 1823 in Dorset by Mary Anning.
A 3 meter long specimen lived 190 million years ago during the Lower Jurassic. Its fossil skeleton had been found in the early 1990s in current day Gloucestershire and was unsurprisingly nicknamed Nessie. Its thorax is complete beside parts of the tail, neck, limbs and skull. The preserved bones are densely mineralized without distorsion.
It was sold by Sotheby's for € 460K from a lower estimate of € 320K on October 5, 2010, lot 51. Mounted with additional cast elements on a bespoke armature in eight sections that can be rigged, it passed at Sotheby's on July 26, 2023, lot 4.
2012 The Skin of an Old Vegetarian
Discovered in 2012 in the Wyoming shale beds and prepared in 2018, this skeleton of nearly 13 m long is a new species that paleontologists will certainly link to the diplodocus. The skeleton is 90% preserved. Its tail was still articulated with a significant surface of fossilized skin, a unique case among these big vegetarians that lived about 155 million years ago. It is nicknamed Skinny.
Traceability must be perfect, to counter the temptation of cheaters to reconstruct composite skeletons. The authenticity of Skinny is based on its bone map at digging and guaranteed by Eric Mickeler.
Like all diplodocuses, the neck and the stabilizing tail are extremely long, allowing the animal to feed on grasses or leaves as it fancies. The effectiveness of this diet is indisputable : the estimated weight of the living animal is around 20,000 kg. Skinny deserved a staging both spectacular and scientific. It was prepared by Paleomoove.
Created in Marseille by Nicolas Tourment, the Paleomoove laboratory uses stainless steel structures that are resistant to wear and allow the skeleton to be articulated in different positions according to the customer's wishes. This modification must be executed by Paleomoove.
Prepared by Paleomoove, Skinny is displayed at Heathrow until June 3, with a skeleton height of 6.20 m mounted on an interchangeable stand 1.50 m high. Please watch the short video shared by Aguttes for summarizing this event.
The Eye of the Ichthyosaurus
2009 SOLD 180 K€ including premium
The differentiation of animal species is activated by the mechanism of genic mutation, and lasts for several hundreds of millions of years. Most mutations are lethal, but some allow the development of organs best suited to the environment.
The reptile was a great achievement which led the invasion of land by vertebrates. 150 million years ago, at the time of the dinosaurs, other giant reptiles known as ichthyosaurs used the flexible look of a dolphin or shark to return to the sea. Ichthyosaurs enjoyed great success as they spread across the globe.
Among them, the ophtalmosaurus chose to develop his vision to better play his role as predator, in the night and into the depths. His eyes, 23 cm in diameter, are the largest in the history of animals.
One of these terrible beasts, 5.40 m long, offers its skeleton to buyers at Christie's in Paris on April 7. The first quality of a fossil skeleton on the art market is the percentage it has with respect to a complete specimen. The latter, 90% for the skull and 75% for the rest of the body, deserves its estimate of 180 K €.
POST SALE COMMENT
The ophtalmosaurus was sold close to its estimate: 180 K € including fees.
Skeletons considered as Artworks
2009 SOLD 250 K$ including premium
On 16 April 2007, Christie's Paris introduced the fossil skeletons of large animals in the category of Fine Arts. The announcement made before the sale clearly expressed such an intent from the auction house, and the market followed. The mammoth skeleton of 4.80 m high sold 260 K € before fees (310 K € fees included) on an estimate of 100 K €, and the woolly rhinoceros of 4.10 m long sold 100 K € before fees (120 K € inclusive), doubling its estimate.
"On 16 April at Christie's, mammoth, woolly rhinoceros and cave bear became works of art. Amateurs and representatives of museums of natural history, and collectors of contemporary and classical art battled in auction in front of many astonished children in the attendance. "Said François Curiel, President of Christie's Europe, auctioneer of the sale.
Exactly one year later, Christie's Paris focused even bigger, with a triceratops skeleton of 7.5 m long. It was more difficult. The dinosaur was only about 70% complete, the remainder was moulded. Estimated € 500 K, it was not sold at the hammer, but Christie's found a buyer the next day to 590 K € inclusive.
Being complete is important for a fossil. This quality pushed a tyrannosaurus named Sue, 13 meters long, to $ 7.6 million before fees ($ 8.3 million charge included) at Sotheby's in New York on 4 October 1997.
Another triceratops is the star of the sale of Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas on January 18. There is only the skull of it, but it is 93% complete and 2 meters long. The three horns are great and make me think to a bull disguised as a rhino. The lower jaw is remarkable. The catalog tells us that the brain cavity was very small.
This object estimated to be 68 million years old was unearthed in a ranch in Montana. It lacked a horn, but it is possible that the animal had broken it in his lifetime, as experts believe seeing traces of healing. It has been reconstituted.
This triceratops skull is estimated 240 K $.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result is excellent: $ 250 K including premium, in the region of the low estimate.
A few days earlier, Maynards sold in Vancouver another triceratops skull for 60 K Can$. Without doubt it was less complete.
2013 Elderly Specimen
2018 SOLD for € 2M by Aguttes
This dinosaur 2.60 m high, nearly 9 m long and 70% preserved was an old adult. It probably died by a fall in the river and not in a landslide because its bones were not compressed during the fossilization, allowing for example to construct with accuracy the three-dimensional shape of its muzzle. Its bone pathologies are discernible.
It has been inspected by specialists but it remains to find its actual place in the evolution of theropods. Its next owner will be invited to contribute to its scientific designation.
After a public exhibition on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, this fossil was sold for € 2M from a lower estimate of € 1.2M by Aguttes on June 4, 2018, lot 1. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
2010 SOLD for € 1.3M by Sotheby's
On this occasion, the comfortable room of Sotheby's was occupied by one of those antediluvian horrors that excite both imagination of adults and passion of children: the fossil skeleton of a carnivorous dinosaur.
The happy tenant is a large size allosaurus, 10 meters long, which further strengthens the likeness with a tyrannosaurus. It is 70 % complete. It was sold for € 1.3M.
2016 SOLD for € 1.13M by Aguttes
It is remarkable for the conservation of its skull with teeth still in place on the jaw and a very good articulation of the cervical vertebrae.
Please watch the video shared by Art et Communication.
2010 growth of a dinosaur
The most spectacular, found in 2007, is the two beasts that killed one another. Their fossil skeletons were sold in a single lot by Heritage for $ 2.75M including premium on 12 June 2011. The allosaurus from this terrible couple was 6.30 m long and 70% complete.
Juvenile specimens are extremely rare, perhaps because their death was often due to predators that showed poor respect for the integrity of their bones. They are interesting by the proportions of their limbs still in growth phase. The first excavation of the bone of a young allosaurus in Wyoming was performed in 2006.
On November 25 in their gallery surrounded by gardens in Sussex, Summers Place Auctions sells the fossil skeleton of a juvenile allosaurus 2.85 m long, complete over 50% (although the actual rate is not identified in the catalogue). It is estimated beyond £ 300K, lot 55.
I had indeed an intuition in previous posts that recent technical improvements favored the excavation of increasingly complete specimens. The press release published by Summers Place provides fascinating details.
The first bone of the allosaurus for sale was found in 2010. An initial assessment by geologists is now considered essential before digging around the skeleton, to establish both the hardness of the rock and the brittleness of the fossil. The species must be identified early for guiding the search for the bones remaining within the rock.
The painstaking work of the excavation of this skeleton spanned three seasons. It was laying over the fossil of a large sauropod which was the subject of a similarly careful processing.
2018 SOLD for € 1.44M by Binoche et Giquello
A skeleton fossil 13 m long passed at Aguttes on June 13, 2019, lot 1, despite a pre-sale exhibition at Heathrow Airport.
A specimen of fossil skeleton from the species Kaatedocus Siberi was sold for € 1.44M by Binoche et Giquello on April 11, 2018, lot 72. This small diplodocus is 12 m long and 3 m high.
THE SKIN OF THE DINOSAURS
With modern techniques of extraction, the fossils of dinosaurs invade the art market, for our fun. They are increasinglylarge, varied, complete, amazing.
The prosaurolophus for sale on October 13 by Sotheby's in Paris is a nice fossil. Belonging to the family ofhadrosaurs, this plant-eating dinosaur lived in Montana in the late Cretaceous, 75 million years ago. It is illustrated in the catalog of the auction house.
Each species has its peculiarities. Note for this one a lovely crest adorning the head, a duck bill and a specialized jawcapable of chewing food. At 11 meters long, it is perhaps the largest known specimen of its species.
The skeleton has a very good rate of preservation: 95% of the skull, and 85% of the body bones. It is also one of very few known cases of mummy dinosaurs, those specimens that retained some fossil remains of their skin. These features make it earn an estimate of € 1.2 M.
Suppose the gentle animal died when it was bathing in mud in a foul swamp of its time. Assume also that the soft material encircling the corpse was chemically not very active. The sedimentary rock formed a matrix around the skin, not just around the bones, preserving the details of the external texture of the animal.
The most remarkable mummy dinosaur is another hadrosaur named Dakota, discovered some years ago by a boy inhis parents' land. The envelope of skin had not crushed onto the bones, so allowing a direct measurement of the volume of muscles. Wonder of science: some organic molecules were also preserved.
1994 ONE HALF OF A TYRANNOSAURUS
There are many similarities between the Tyrannosaurus and ourselves: the standing attitude, the big head, the nice smile, the quest for power. Known as Rex, there was no sharing in its territory. That's what everyone wishes also for himself.
But there are many more similarities between Samson and Sue. Both animals lived at the same time 66 or 67 million years ago. They had the same size, 13 meters long, 4 meters high. They were both thriving in what is now South Dakota. Samson is announced as a female ; for Sue, its current owner the Field Museum in Chicago could not decide on its sex.
Unfortunately for Samson, the comparison stops here. Sue was so complete, with more than 200 bones recovered from the same animal, that there was no need to add molding for displaying it to the public. Sue is a miracle of preservation, this fully justifies its price of $ 8.3 million including expenses, at Sotheby's in 1997.
With 170 bones, the skeleton of Samson is complete only at 50%. It can run after Sue in the hierarchy of the results of auctions, but will not join it. Yet, according to the press release from Bonhams, it is one of three best preserved Tyrannosaurus. Samson will be for sale by Bonhams and Butterfields in Las Vegas on October 3.
Sue was discovered in 1990 and Samson circa 1994.
POST SALE COMMENT
Samson could not join Sue, as I said. This skeleton has not been sold.
In paleontology, the remaining percentage of the skeleton is fundamental to define the price, but according to a hyperbolic function rather than linear. The rarity of this piece made it difficult for setting the hyperbole.
2018 Triceratops Skull
2021 SOLD for $ 500K by Sotheby's
Stan the tyrannosaur was excavated in Hell Creek in Wyoming, arguably the best reserve of fossil dinosaurs in the world. In the lifetime of the terrible lizards, it was a coastal plain filled with swamps, forests and estuaries. The sediments had been displaced by the slow rising of the Rocky Mountains down to a width of 100 m or more in which the discovery of fossils is virtually unlimited.
The triceratops skull sold by Sotheby's on April 28, 2021 has been found in Hell Creek in 2018. This fossil 2.20 m long and 85 cm wide with its eponymous forehead horns about 75 cm long is exceptionally preserved because it has been extracted from a single gangue. It is announced as 80 % complete in bone mass with an" extremely high surface quality of bone material".
It was sold for $ 500K, lot 1.
2018 Dinosaurs with Bird Feet
2019 Sold for CHF 225k including premium
Maximus came from South Dakota where it was discovered in 2018 alongside other Cretaceous dinosaurs in the former bed of a river. These animals certainly died in a flood and the bones were not distorted during the fossilization.
It belongs to the species Thescelosaurus neglectus which was a ultimate evolution of the ornithopods just before the sudden extinction of all dinosaurs about 66 million years ago. The adaptation of this herbivore to its environment included chewing and bird feet. Without being a direct ancestor of birds, this group assesses that the evolution from saurians to birds was inevitable.
Maximus is 3 m long, in the lower part of the length range known for its species, and was probably a young adult.
The genus Thescelosaurus was described in 1915 on an incomplete specimen that had retained some articulations. It translates the wonder of the paleontologist in front of this exceptional characteristic : in ancient Greek, theskelos means godlike.
emergence of a sea monster
The elasmosaurs, meaning lizard-ribbon, could reach 14 meters, more than half of that length for the neck articulated on 70 vertebrae which served as a rudder to direct the beast at full speed onto its prey.
In 2011 a new species of elasmosaur is described in Morocco from two samples : a crushed skull and its mandible, and a complete mandible. It receives the name of zarafasaura, the lizard-giraffe.
The more recent excavation, also in Morocco, of the 75% complete fossil skeleton of an elasmosaur makes it possible to better understand this family of sea monsters. The newcomer has no blatant difference with the remains of the zarafasaura. It took two years for a team of specialists to prepare it. It is 8.4 m long and 3.70 m wide at the level of the central fins.
This unprecedented fossil will be sold by Binoche et Giquello in Paris (Drouot) on March 7, lot 51. The press release is issued by Drouot.
It is difficult to anticipate its price because of its rarity, its exceptional size and its significant conservation rate. I described previously in this column a Jurassic plesiosaur 3 m long announced as complete that sold for € 457K including premium at Sotheby's on October 5, 2010 and an ichthyosaur 5,40 m long 75% complete sold for € 180K including premium by Artcurial on April 7, 2009.
The Lizard in Amber
2009 SOLD 95 K$ including premium
Amber is the result of vitrification of the sap of trees. This transparent material, of golden or brown color, is unalterable. Some pieces of amber include insects. In antiquity, for this reason, amber was the symbol of eternal youth.
The vertebrete animals are extremely rare, but much more interesting than the skeleton fossils because the external look is fully preserved. Heritage Auction Galleries introduces a whole lizard at lot 41,277 from the sale in Dallas on January 18.
This animal 10 cm long was dead before being mired in its eternal resin: it had begun to decay. It is accompanied in its piece of amber by three ants and four small flies.
The inclusion of an animal in amber is easy to counterfeit, but our example is authenticated by a professor of Berkeley University, and would be between 30 and 90 million years old.
It is estimated 90 K$.
POST SALE COMMENT
I did not have a reference price for a paleontological amber. So here is one: $ 95K including premium.
The Terrible Smilodon
This predator from the Pleistocene has been feeding for 2.5 million years on the largest mammals, in fresh meat and carrion. The teeth were used as daggers and shredders when the jaws were open or as a club or icebreaker with the jaws closed. It disappeared during a glaciation that had decimated its preys.
This animal was sociable. The fossils grouped in a single formation at Rancho La Brea in California have been dated from 19,000 to 12,600 years ago with the carbon 14. These big kitties are protected ! Private collecting is banned for half a century on this site.
On September 28 in Dallas, Heritage sells the fossil of a skull of smilodon, lot 72127 estimated $ 700K accompanied by a letter from the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History confirming its permission of circulation.
This specimen is exceptional. The lower jaw was close to the cranium when it was discovered and it is 95% complete from a single animal. Interestingly the fragile nasal orifice is intact. It is very large for its species, smilodon fatalis, with a skull length of 35 cm and sabers measured at 25 cm along the outer curve.
Saber-Tooth Cat fossils are highly prized among collectors, particularly their skulls. The most desirable being those excavated from the Rancho La Brea Formation like this specimen!— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) September 20, 2019
9.28 Nature & Science Sale, No. 5435#HeritageAuctions #fossils https://t.co/Nx08zx2iv3 pic.twitter.com/GMbg0MGIU0
Skeletons of Mammoth
2017 SOLD for € 550K including premium
The woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) occupies a special place in our imagination. Our ancestors painted its image on the walls of the caves. Its morphology is very close to the Asian elephant but is distinguished by the extension of the tusks used for catching food by burying the snow.
Among the extinct species the woolly mammoth is of the utmost interest in contemporary biology. The discovery of frozen bodies with a well preserved DNA makes hope for a regeneration of the species.
On December 16 in Lyon, Aguttes sells the skeleton of a large specimen of Mammuthus primigenius, lot 55 estimated € 450K. It is 3.40 m high including its straight head, 5.40 m long and 80% complete. Its beautiful tusks preserved at 90% are curved without being symmetrical for a linear length of 3.32 m and 3 m and a weight close to 80 Kg each. It was collected in Siberia.
The detailed inspection provides information on the medical history of this old male who probably died of a necrosis of the lower mandible that no longer enabled him to eat.
The 90 % complete skeleton sold on November 26, 2014 for £ 190K including premium by Summers Place was a male of similar size but shorter tusks. Among the specimens whose preservation rate and tusk size were not available in the catalog, let us remind Le Président that sold for € 310K including premium at Christie's on April 16, 2007 and another skeleton sold for € 240K including premium by Sotheby's on October 2, 2012.
Please watch the video shared by Aguttes.
A Mammoth in Sussex
2014 SOLD for £ 190K including premium
On November 26 in Billingshurst in West Sussex, Summers Place sells a skeleton 90% complete, lot 92 estimated beyond £ 150K. Here is the link to the site of the auction house.
Smaller than its predecessors, the woolly mammoth has the size of a big elephant. The skeleton for sale, 3.50 m high, is certainly a male: females were smaller. The tusks of the mammoth, on the opposite, were longer than the elephant's. Those of the specimen for sale have an inner curve of 2.40 m and are in excellent condition. The animal lived in Eastern Europe, perhaps 10,000 years ago.
A skeleton of Siberian mammoth was sold for € 240K including premium by Sotheby's on October 2, 2012.
2004 THE EXTREME JAW
The extinction of the dinosaurs did not end the domination of the planet by the beasts that had the strongest jaws.The giant sharks also had their reign that ended 1.5 million years ago when the great whales, which were their usual food, became scarce.
Fossil remains of the largest species of sharks, the Megalodon, are abundant in the Atlantic, across the East Coast of the United States. They have raised during some twenty years the Passion of an amateur diver, Vito Bertucci. I write the word passion with a capital P, because the hero of this story led it up to his own death.
Bertucci assembled his collection of authentic shark teeth on jaw dummies. His first two complete specimens of jaws are preserved, one in a museum, the other in an aquarium, but his great work was the next one: a complete jaw including in the right position some teeth sizing over 18 cm.
Bertucci died of a diving accident in October 2004 shortly after achieving such an assembly, which is sold by Heritage in Dallas on June 12. The 182 sharp teeth are arranged in several rows in their natural configuration, as a rasp. This mouth wide open reaches more than 3 meters in diameter. The article shared by the Daily Mail shows a general view and two very nice photos of details.
Let's talk money: this lot is estimated $ 700K.
For the scholarly community, this seems excessive: Scientists prefer the authentic specimens, and this one was made from disparate individuals on a resin assembly.
For a museum or a collector, the answer is less obvious. The best teeth are exceptional, and the collection could perhaps achieve the price if they were presented as separate elements. I have not seen an information on the method of fixing, I do not know if the object can be disassembled.
For an art lover considering the work as the passion of a visionary, the price of this gate to hell is unpredictable.
Ancient Olive Trees
2012 SOLD 78 K€ including premium
The old olive trees are works of art made by the nature, whose trunk can get extraordinary contorted shapes. They are said to be thousand of years old. Although dendrochronology can not be applied to the wood of this tree, it is true.
A collector brought together 44 ancient olive trees from Spain. The most important were awarded the names of Roman emperors. The biggest, Augusto (lot 25), weighs 16.5 tons. Like its colleagues, it is shaped like a fat man: 3.30 m highonly for a circumference of 9.30 m (corresponding to an average diameter of 3 m).
The whole collection is brought together for the exhibition before the sale of October 8 in Montastruc, near Toulouse, by Stanislas Machoïr (France Expertises Enchères company). However, only the numbers 1 to 17, theleast important, will be auctioned on that day. The others seek a buyer for a private sale
Unsold trees from lots 18 to 44 will be gathered again for the close-out of the sale, in the same place on March 24.This second auction session is entitled "Living Sculptures of the Roman Empire."
POST SALE COMMENTS
The best result of the first sale, € 64K including premium, was recorded on a Portuguese olive tree weighing 10tons, 3.10 m high and 6.90 m in circumference measured at 1.20 m above the ground. The specimens prepared for the second sale will spend the winter in the castle of Montastruc.
Here are some interesting details:
All trees within the auction sale are in good health and continue to produce fruit.
Specialists consider that olive trees over four meters in circumference are more than one thousand years old.
These trees were taken out of Spain before a law banning the export of ancient olive trees from the province of Valencia. This sale is exceptional in every way.
SECOND SALE SEPTEMBER 30, 2012
POST SALE COMMENT
The top lot of the second sale remained far below its estimate. It was sold € 65K before fees, 78K including premium.
The video presentation of the collection is shared by the auction house.
1769 The Freshwater Lion
2018 SOLD for € 320K before fees
In 1769 an agent of the Dutch East Indies Company returns from Batavia where he had spent five years. He brings with him various goods that will interest the European market including an exceptional nacreous freshwater pearl weighing 2373 grains, 578 carats according to the measurement system in period, which is still today one of the three largest known specimens.
The pearl is a sensation in the auction sale of his deceased estate in Amsterdam in 1778, not only for its size but also for its blistered shape visualizing a sleeping lion above a flat striated base that evokes the finial of a carved jade seal of the Qianlong Emperor. A real size engraving has been edited for that auction.
It is bought at that sale for 2100 guilders before fees by a Dutch banker acting as art broker for Empress Catherine the Great to whom he delivers it in the following year. The pearl reappears circa 1863 when a woman, probably the daughter of a Danzig shipowner, tries to sell it to the King of Italy. It is bought by a Dutch associate of the jeweler of the king. The project of integrating it into a Fabergé surprise egg to be offered by the Tsar to the Tsarina is canceled by the fall of the Russian empire.
This 70 x 43 x 39 mm sleeping lion pearl weighing 118 grams is offered with its ancient gilt brass box fitting to its dimensions. It is estimated beyond € 340K for sale by Venduehuis in The Hague on May 31, lot 1778. Here are the links to the site of the auction house and to an article shared by Den Haag Centraal.
C’est la plus grosse perle naturelle d’eau douce connue au monde : Le «Sleeping Lion Pearl» qui mesure près de 7 cm de long est proposé aux #enchères @VenduehuisDH. Cette rareté est d’autant plus majestueuse qu’elle a appartenue à Catherine II de Russie https://t.co/sOrrVzPo9T pic.twitter.com/H4LenYinzH— AuctionLab (@byAuctionLab) May 24, 2018
SPECTACULAIR! □ VANDAAG IN DEN HAAG CENTRAAL "Grootste zoetwater parel ter wereld onder de hamer" op 31 mei a.s. bij het @VenduehuisDH. Directeur Peter Meefout, keurig met witte handschoenen, koestert ‘The Sleeping Lion Pearl’#pearl #parel #sleepinglion #auction #veiling pic.twitter.com/Cqrm6t2o7Q— Venduehuis Den Haag (@VenduehuisDH) May 17, 2018
1830S WAITING FOR THE WHALE
The boat trips were lengthy. Whales provided meat, danger and distraction altogether.
They were a constant threat to the ship, and sailors were waiting for long hours. They were busy decorating the teeth and bones of whales and walruses, creating these works of folk art known as the scrimshaws.
The second voyage of HMS Beagle, from 1832 to 1836, became famous in the history of science. The young naturalist of the expedition was not concerned by the whale (or not only!). This theologian made theories on the mechanisms of nature. His name was Charles Darwin.
On September 15 in London, Bonhams sells a scrimshaw made on a whale tooth during this trip. The incised drawing on this 20 cm piece shows on one side a canoe with natives of Tierra del Fuego, and on the other side a settlement under the palm trees in Tahiti. It is signed and located.
The value of this artifact is related to the memory of Darwin's travel. It is estimated £ 30K. The silver mounted tooth is illustrated in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity.
1863 the dissection of the gorilla
This situation is not satisfactory and does not meet the needs. Auzoux chooses the technique of papier mâché to build life size or enlarged models of human organs, so enabling an easy simulation of joints and a disassembly.
In 1825, the Académie Royale de Médecine authorizes their edition. The brilliant inventor is 28 years old. He establishes in his village a factory which will exercise this activity until the early 2000s and includes a complete human écorché from his first catalog.
The interest of anatomists for animals dates back to antiquity. In Rome, Galen dissected macaque monkeys to define the treatment of human diseases. The work of Auzoux undeniably influenced Darwin.
The new zoological wonder is the gorilla whose existence was confirmed in 1847. Its name used 2,400 years earlier by Hanno meant hairy woman in the language of the explorer and the animal had remained a myth like unicorns or mermaids as long as it was not seen again.
In 1863 Auzoux convinces the Emperor Napoléon III of the advantage to study this creature so similar to humans. A specimen is sent from Africa and Auzoux realizes its public dissection in the amphitheater of the Ecole de Médecine. He discovered during this inspection that the gorilla has the same gripping thumbs as man.
In the same year, the life size gorilla is entered in Auzoux's catalog. It is constituted of 1193 elements. The right hand is raised to a branch for an overall height of 2.17 m.
On September 10 in London, Christie's sells the prototype of the Auzoux gorilla, lot 22 estimated £ 80K, accompanied by an autograph manuscript of 65 pages describing the removable pieces. A copy as an écorché was sold for € 13K before fees by Christophe Joron-Derem on December 16, 2013.
1865 The Lazy Pigeon of the Indian Ocean
2016 SOLD for £ 346K including premium
That new bird arouses some curiosity in Europe, without triggering a scientific analysis. When it became evident about one hundred years after its discovery that the species was extinct, all reliable information had also disappeared. The stuffed specimens had rotted. Descriptions made by travelers and the rare drawings could be questioned.
The dodo is probably the result of a trans-ocean migration of pigeons about ten or twenty million years ago. The vegetation was abundant on this isolated island and they had no predators. Over the generations the species changed. The bird became bigger and the wings were atrophied, making it impossible to escape when men came bringing with them pigs, monkeys, cats and dogs that ate the beasts and their eggs.
In 1865 a schoolmaster is allowed to search in a bog. The result meets the expectations : the bones are abundant, probably following an ancient flood which had engulfed simultaneously a large quantity of birds. A few bones were sent to English zoologists and the rest of the collection was auctioned in London by J.C. Stevens.
Most dodo bones available on the market come from the Stevens sale. Important discoveries have been made since 2005 but their export is prohibited.
For four decades a collector bought bones of dodo in order to create a skeleton as complete as possible. It managed it up to 95% with a part of the skull and a set of claws being the only missing elements. This composite skeleton is estimated over £ 300K for sale by Summers Place in Billingshurst (West Sussex) on November 22, lot 81. Here is the link to the website of the auction house.
1974 THE ABERRANT BUTTERFLY
2010 SOLD 21 K€ INCLUDING PREMIUM
In the category of famous bugs, we already had the Butterfly that stamped, in the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.We add a male specimen of Ornithoptera paradisea borchi (I translate: bird winged butterfly of paradise described by a man named Borch).
Collected in New Guinea in 1974, he is for sale in Paris, Hôtel Drouot, on February 3 by the auction houses Rieunierand Mathias.
These males, 14 cm in wingspan, are pretty animals, with an elegant design on
a green background which makes them difficult to see amid the forests
In searching the web, I found another sample at $ 550. The Drouot specimen is estimated € 10 K, because the decoration of its wings is different from that of his colleagues. Entomologists have described him as an aberrant specimen, and not as an additional subspecies. Just like the stamp collectors, these specialists are passionate about the errors.
He took the honors of the front page of the current week's edition of La Gazette Drouot.
POST SALE COMMENT
Fair price for this unique specimen of a beautiful butterfly: 17 K € hammer price, 21 K € including premium.
1972 Blue Headed Tourmaline
2010 SOLD 119.5 K$ including premium
Throughout the year we are discussing the wonders created by humans. This does not make us overlooking the art of nature.
Of course, there are diamonds, results of an artistic relationship between nature and jeweler. But there are also semi-precious minerals, for which the crystals are maintained in the rough.
In their specialized sale of natural history on January 17 in Dallas, Heritage Auction Galleries enthuse over a tourmaline. They share its image in the press release.
The specimen includes three cylindrical crystals of various sizes and diameters, elegantly arranged like an abstract sculpture. They have a subtle color between bright reddish and pink, contrasting strikingly with their navy blue cleavage planes. The overall volume is about 11 x 11 x 6 cm. The only known source of this variety is a mine of San Diego discovered in 1972.
This mineral piece very well created in nature is estimated $ 110K.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good result: 119.5 K $ including premium (which is $ 100K hammer price).
In the same sale, a large aquamarine crystal has been sold 143 K $ including premium.
2003 tsavorite from africa
Jewelers are interested. In 1974 Tiffany names it tsavorite by reference to a Kenyan park adjacent to the extraction zone. The operation is not always politically easy. In 2009 the discoverer of the vein is massacred.
On October 15 in New York, Heritage sells one of the largest specimens of tsavorite, lot 57187.
This yellowish green gemstone extracted in 2003 was cut as a faceted oval in Bangkok to a final weight of 65.72 carats. Its size is 23 x 20 x 17 mm.
It is estimated that the tsavorite is 200 times rarer than emerald. There is no history at auction of a tsavorite of such a size. It is estimated $ 1M with a starting bid of $ 500K at no reserve.
2007 Lunar Slices
2020 SOLD for $ 120K including premium
Found in 2007 in the desert of southern Morocco, NWA 5000 is one of the largest and of the heaviest lunar meteorites with a mass of 11,528 grams in a single unfragmented block. Its complex structure is the combined result of erosion by the solar wind and of several major mechanical and thermal accidents that span 4.5 billion years. This Lunar Highlands gabbro type rock comes from a lunar region unexplored by Apollo.
NWA 5000 is an exceptional case of a lunar rock with inclusions of a metallic alloy, possibly due to the impact from a meteoroid. It was ejected by an impact with an asteroid, the phenomenon that generates the lunar craters. Captured by the Earth's gravitation, it was stabilized by a very long duration in orbit in the upper atmosphere and withstood the heating of the landing.
NWA 5000 is close to perfection for its aesthetic quality and its scientific interest. It was entrusted to one of the best specialists, the Hupé Collection, who split it into twelve slices in the bulk. Four slices were further divided. Six of the complete pieces were shared in private sales amidst four customers.
The seventh and final complete slice, nicknamed The Perigee, is one of the best. It weighs 702.89 grams and measures 245 x 218 x 8 mm. It retains a crust created when entering the lower atmosphere. Coming directly from Hupé, it is estimated $ 250K in an online sale by RR Auction ending on April 16, lot 8001. Please read the catalog shared on Issuu by the auction house.
2005 extraterrestrial jewelry
The main impact point is found : a small hole 15 m in diameter identified as the Brenham crater. The collecting area is nicknamed the Kansas Meteorite Farm. According to the current estimate, 7000 kg of extraterrestrial matter reached the ground at Brenham. The fall is recent: less than 1000 years.
For over a century geologists study Brenham. A monolithic mass of 450 kg is found in 1947. Prospecting techniques are improving : the largest piece of meteorite from Brenham, weighing 650 kg, was discovered in 2005. It is estimated £ 500K for sale by Christie's in London on 20 April, lot 74.
This sample measuring 965 x 661 x 584 mm is of great scientific interest: it is a rare oriented meteorite, meaning that its drop axis is perfectly visible. It has of course been modified by its heating in the friction with the atmosphere and takes around its axis the rounded shape of an ideal thermal shield.
Composed of iron-nickel, the Brenham meteorite is also hiding olivine inclusions which are revealed by polishing. Common on Earth, olivine is a high density silicate of iron and magnesium which has also been found on the Moon and on Mars and is frequently observed in space by spectroscopy. This yellowish gemstone can be used in jewelry under the name of peridot.
A GIANT IN A CLAM
The pearl unsold at Philip Weiss on September 13 is coming at Bonhams in Los Angeles tomorrow, December 6. Of course, there is no reference made by Bonhams by the failure of the other auctioneer, but both releases include the same laudatory quote from the EGL (European Gem Laboratories USA in New York) expert who inspected the piece. The estimate of Bonhams is ambitious: $ 300K.
The photo of the pearl has been shared both times by AuctionPublicity. Here is the link to the two releases:
August 19, Philip Weiss Auctions
December 2, Bonhams
I republish below my previous article:
EGL USA had never seen so large a specimen. This natural pearl is weighing 2.267 Kg. Indeed, this laboratory is a leading expert of gemology, well-equipped with microscope, digital radiography and X-ray fluorescence for the study of pearls.
The piece has been authenticated and its "author" identified. The monster which provided such a product is the giant clam, Tridacna Gigas, which lives in the Philippines. This is the biggest of all bivalve mollusks. Its shell can measure 1.5 m and weigh 250 kg. Despite its bad reputation, it is not dangerous.
There is no comparison here, of course, with the perfect shape, spherical or ovoid, of small pearls. The surface tension created during the decades of its growing gave it the shape and look of a brain 15 cm long. It is not nacreous.
1622 double star and cat's eyes
2017 top lots unsold
He traveled tirelessly on foot and horseback in the region of Muzo where the best emeralds in the world are found, characterized by an intense green and a perfect geometry of the crystal. Internationally recognized as a specialist in emerald, he also appraised the specimens from the 1622 Atocha shipwreck which already came from Muzo.
On April 25 in New York, Guernsey's sells the personal collection of Marcial de Gomar, dedicating a specific website to this operation. Museum quality minerals abound in this sale.
At lot 16 La Gloria is a rough emerald weighing 887 carats. The catalog considers that it could yield after cut a jewel of 300 to 400 carats.
A group of nine emeralds from the Atocha treasure for a total weight of 91.69 carats constitutes lot 21 under the name of Nine Pillars of the Andes.
Lot 19, the Marcial de Gomar Star cut as a 25.86 carat cabochon is an exceptional example of double star, meaning that contrary to the usual reflections of the emeralds this one returns light in all directions and by its two faces.
The Tears of Fura at lot 5 is a well matched pair of emeralds from Muzo in an exquisite drop shape for a total weight of 95.51 carats.
Leading the composite jewels is lot 4, Corona de Muzo, a necklace centered on an emerald of 24.34 carats from the Atocha.
Invited by the collector, a remarkable pair from another provenance is added as lot 26A. Cut from a 370 carat rough emerald, this pair of well matched gems weighing 36.17 and 38.36 carats offers the very rare cat's eye natural feature.
They are in the form of a pill enhanced by the spectacular brilliance of a thin reflection crossing throughout the length. Their double preparation which is an unprecedented technical feat in such a size has been carried out and documented under the control of the GIA.
Please watch the video shared by Newsy:
2015 pride and hope in botswana
The Lucara Diamond Corp Canadian-based company bought in 2010 a promising site in Botswana. The first diamond was unearthed two years later and the mine is named Karowe meaning Precious Stone in Tswana. In May 2015, the company renewed its detection technology by using six X Ray sensors from TOMRA brand. Each machine is capable of sorting 150 metric tons per hour.
Success is immediate and the exploration campaign in November 2015 achieves great results with the extraction through two consecutive days of three type IIa diamonds weighing respectively 1109, 813 and 374 carats. Following a contest that has excited the people in Botswana, the heaviest of these stones is named Lesedi la Rona meaning Our Light in Tswana.
Market practices are also changing. Lesedi la Rona escapes the specialized sales of rough diamonds and is auctioned by Sotheby's in London on June 29, lot 1.
The history of this exceptional stone will not stop there. The buyer will use it according to his will, of course, but he has no reason to leave it intact as a mineralogy specimen since other sensational gems shall inevitably follow. Lesedi la Rona was found at only 200 m under the surface.
Sotheby's is well established in the diamond industry through its subsidiary Sotheby's Diamonds partner of Diacore which is a specialist in cutting and polishing. Sotheby's made analyzed Lesedi la Rona by two other expert companies and the GIA stated that "this crystal has the potential to produce one of the largest top quality diamond that has ever been cut and polished".
The press release of 4 May announced an estimate in excess of $ 70M. The buyer will want to make a profit. Assuming that the jeweler manages to extract a single diamond from Lesedi la Rona, the end product will reach one of the highest prices in the art market in all categories.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's :