Bonhams set new world auction records in 2013

The past year (2013) saw a series of art records broken in Bonhams salerooms round the world in London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

JEAN HONORÉ FRAGONARD (French, 1732-1806) Portrait of François-Henri, 5th duc d'Harcourt, half-length and looking over his shoulder to his left Sold for £17,106,500 inc. premium

(French, 1732-1806)
Portrait of François-Henri, 5th duc d’Harcourt, half-length and looking over his shoulder to his left
Sold for £17,106,500 inc. premium

Records were achieved for Old Master Painting, Jewelry, Russian Art, Indian and Islamic Art, Chinese Art, Contemporary African Art and Collectors’ Cars. The year has also proved to be a record one for Bonhams results which come on top of the successful launch of the company’s new Headquarters at 101 New Bond Street, London.

Old Master Paintings

A major work by the 18th century French artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard, ‘The Portrait of François-Henri d’Harcourt’, sold for £17,106,50 on 5th December setting a world record price both for the artist at auction and for a French Rococo painting. It is also the highest price for an Old Master Painting sold at auction anywhere in the world this year. The previous record for a Fragonard was £5,300,000 for a painting sold in London in 1999.

The painting was the leading work in the sale of paintings and sculpture from the renowned collection of the German philanthropist, the late Dr Gustav Rau. The proceeds will be used to benefit the Foundation of the German Committee for UNICEF – for the children of the world.

Russian Art

Russian art is once again on top form at Bonhams this year with a record breaking Russian sale on 5th June totalling £12,384,675 which set two new world records. In an overflowing saleroom, the mesmerizing Madonna Laboris by Nikolai Roerich (1874-1947), sold for £7,881,250 setting a new world record price for the artist and making it the most valuable Russian picture ever to be sold in a Russian art auction. A second world record was set for a work by the artist, Alexander Volkov (1886-1957) ‘The Child Musicians’, which surpassed expectations selling for £2,057,250.


An extremely rare fancy deep-blue diamond weighing 5.30 carats sold at Bonhams Fine Jewelry sale in London’s New Bond Street on April 24th for a record price of $1.8m per carat. The previous world record price per carat for a blue diamond was $1.68m. This rare gem was bought by Graff Diamonds, the international diamond house headquartered in New Bond Street. London.

The fancy deep-blue diamond is set in a ‘Trombino’ ring made by Bulgari, the renowned Italian jeweler favored by Hollywood film stars, and the epitome of fashion and innovation during the 1960s. The ring was made circa 1965.

Indian and Islamic Art

A rare Iznik bottle from the golden age of the Ottoman Empire sold at Bonhams Indian and Islamic sale on April 23, for £447,250 a new world record for an Iznik bottle.

A rare Buddhist (377 BC – 1017 AD) Indian carved stone temple step sold for £553,250, a world record for a temple step of this kind. The beautiful 1,000 year old pre-Hindu stone step is one of only six examples known to date from this period, making this discovery the seventh. The massively heavy – three-quarters of a ton stone – was discovered by Bonhams in a Devon garden.

Contemporary African Art

The art of Ben Enwonwu (1917 – 1994) took center stage at Bonhams’ sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art at Bonhams New Bond Street, May 22, with a new world record for the artist at £361,250 against his previous best of £125,000. This record work, a collection of seven wooden sculptures of figures holding newspapers, was commissioned by the Daily Mirror in 1961.

Chinese Art

A Bonhams sale of Chinese art in Hong Kong on 24th November produced a world record for a single owner collection of Yixing Stoneware with a price of HK$ 52,382,500 (£4.1m) achieved. In this sale two stoneware teapots sold for HK$10,360,000m (£815,813) each.

Collectors Motor Cars


Automotive history was made at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale in July, when the 1954 Mercedes-Benze W196R F1 single seater that took five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio to the second of his Formula 1 world titles achieved a record-breaking figure of £19,601,500 (US$29,650,095, €22,701,864).

The car becomes the most valuable motor vehicle ever sold at auction, beating the previous record of £10,086,400 set by a Ferrari in 2011. It is also the most valuable Formula 1 racing car ever sold and the most valuable Mercedes.


Bonhams also set a new world record highest price for a Maserati at auction, when a 1955 300S Sports-Racing Spider sold for £4,033,500. The previous record was £2,251,520 set in 2012.

Alfa Romeo

One of the most charismatic of all the great pre-war Grand Prix racing cars – the ex-Tazio Nuvolari 1935 Alfa Romeo Tipo C 8C-35 ‘50013’ – Scuderia Ferrari Nr ’65’ sold for £5,937,500 at Bonhams Goodwood Revival Meeting on 14 September, creating a new world record for an Alfa Romeo sold at auction. The previous record for this marque was £4,245,118 for a 1933 Alfa Romeo 8 cylinder Monza 2300 sold in California in 2010.

Coins & Medals

World records tumbled at Bonhams sale of coins in Los Angeles on September 23 when a $4 Stella coin sold for $2.5 million and a 1879 Coiled Hair Stella made $1,041,300. It makes the $2.5m Stella one of the ten most expensive US coins ever sold at auction.


On May 2nd in London Lot 39 from the Mühleib glass sale made a world record price of £277.250 for a German glass, The Dessau Goblet: A magnificent Silesian engraved Hochschnitt goblet and cover by Friedrich Winter, Hermsdorf, circa 1700 against pre-sale estimate of £80,000-120,000. The day before there was also world record price paid for a piece of English cameo glass, lot 123, The Attack: an important cameo glass plaque by Thomas and George Woodall, completed in 1896 which made £169,250 (pre-sale £70,000-100,000).