The Asian art auction held in Geneva this week garnered significant attention from China’s top collectors, resulting in an impressive $3 million in sales. This remarkable achievement not only establishes a new record for the auction house in this field but also solidifies Piguet’s position as a prominent player in Chinese art auctions.
Chinese collectors made dedicated visits to Geneva, while others participated through telephone and online bidding, engaging in spirited competition with European and Swiss collectors, all vying to possess one of the extraordinary Chinese jades from the renowned Mavromichalis collection.
Lot 30: A double pale nephrite jade vase, each in the form of a dragon carp emerging from the water, China, the larger dragon carp accompanied by a dragon, 20 cm high. According to tradition, carp that swim up the Yellow River against the current until they reach the Longmen (literally “Dragon Gate”) waterfalls are transformed into dragons. The carp are thus symbols of perseverance, and their transformation into a dragon is a metaphor for the scholars who, thanks to their persistence, succeed in passing the civil service examinations. Sold: CHF 56,100 (USD 62,500)
Similar vases, which are dated to the 18th century, have been sold at: Sotheby’s, New York, 23 March 2022, lot no. 210; Bonhams, London, 7 June 2021, lot no. 680; Christie’s, New York, 22 March 2013, lot no. 1393; Sotheby’s, Paris, 15 December 2011, lot no. 194.
The highest bid went to a 6.5cm-high jade seal sold on Tuesday in the online auction for an impressive CHF 1,250,000 (USD 1,374,175), the auction house’s record price for a lot sold exclusively online.
Lot 3873: A square pale nephrite jade seal, China, grip in the form of a dragon and flaming pearl in clouds, inscription 八徵耄念之寶 (Bazheng mao nian zhi bao), 5×5 cm (seal), 6.5 cm high. Various seals with a similar inscription were made over the years 1789 to 1795 to celebrate the eightieth birthday of the Qianlong Emperor (1790). Provenance: Brigitte Mavromichalis collection. Sold: CHF 1,250,000 (USD 1,374,175)
A similar seal, dated to Qianlong, was sold at Sotheby’s, 9 October 2007, lot n° 1303. Another, also dated to Qianlong, was sold at Christie’s, Hong Kong, 26 April 2004, lot n°1012.
“These exceptional results confirm the ever-increasing attention from Chinese collectors to Piguet and Geneva,” commented Bernard Piguet, the auction house’s Director and auctioneer. “The consistency and quality of the Mavromichalis collection, which also offered 18th-century European jewellery and objets d’art, explain this enthusiasm”.
The library of Her Royal Highness Princess Maria-Gabriella of Savoy sold 100% of its lots, attracting a large number of collectors and institutions.
Lot 5: Beautiful empty book cover depicting the great arms of Charles-Emmanuel I (1562-1630), Duke of Savoy and Prince of Piedmont, 17th century. Provenance: Library of H.R.H. Princess Maria-Gabriella of Savoy. Sold: CHF 2,000 (USD 2,230)
Music lovers did not miss Wednesday’s online sale of quartet instruments, a new specialty developed by auction house director Claire Piguet, while other collectors turned their attention to the third part of the Minkoff collection and rare pieces of fine jewellery.
Lot 4033: 19th century French violin, made in the very first epoch by Auguste Sebastien Bernardel, dit Bernardel father. It carries a label in Paris 1829, 360 mm. Sold: CHF 17,500 (USD 19,500)
The collection was kept secret by Brigitte Mavromichalis, a major patron of the arts based in Switzerland who has bequeathed millions of francs to institutions and hospitals such as the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Genève, the Fondation Gianadda, and the Musée d’art du Valais, which recently received a bequest of 45 master paintings.
Lot 4414: Liu Xiaodong (1963), Portrait, 1998, oil on canvas, signed and dated, 38×33 cm. Provenance: Courtyard Gallery, Beijing, 1998. Sold: CHF 18,700 (USD 20,800)
In addition to these Chinese art treasures and the seal fetching over €1 million (USD 1,1 million), the heirs of Brigitte Mavromichalis entrusted Piguet with some rare jewelry from the 1930s. Numerous telephone and online bidders fought hard for the 3 Cartier brooches illustrating the “Cartier Indian Style”, which changed hands for CHF 47,000 (USD 51,733), CHF 62,000 (USD 68,193), and CHF 69,000 (USD 75,984).
Lot 139: Cartier, 750 gold pair of panther earrings, birllant-cut diamond pavé heads and cabochon onyx styling the coat, onyx truffle and pear-shape emerald eyes and retaining in their mouth an articulataed cascade set with onyx and brilliant cut diamonds, signed, numbered 615703, h. 5.7 cm. Sold: CHF 62,400 (USD 69,500)
1980s Jewelry is on the Rise!
Piguet auction received CHF 736,000 (USD 820,000) for a Marina B choker and earrings in the iconic 1980s style. The sale of jewelry and watches saw a total of CHF 3.9 million (USD 4,3 million).
Lot 151: Marina B, 1980-90’s pair of 750 gold, blackened gold chestnut shape earclips set with two brilliant-cut diamonds of 9.27 carats, D,VS2 and 9.54 carats, F, Si1 according to GIA reports no.1226863062 dated 20/3/2023 and no.6223863064 dated 16/3/2023, signed, numbered W461, h. 2.4 cm, 28g.
Lot 152: Marina B, 1980-90’s 750 gold and blackened gold choker necklace centering an important 18.04 ct Faint Brown, Si1 modified brilliant-cut diamond according to GIA report n°2221862368 dated 14/3/2023 flanked by 2 Marina B cut diamonds, signed, numbered W236, circ. 29 cm, 200g
Lots 151 and 152 sold for CHF 736,000 (820,000)
The selection from the library of Her Royal Highness Princess Maria-Gabriella of Savoy, daughter of the last King of Italy, was another prestigious collection entrusted to Bernard Piguet’s gavel that attracted bibliophiles and institutions alike.
Lot 1: ABELA (Giovanni-Francesco). Della descrittione di Malta isola nel mare siciliano…. Malta, per Paolo Bonacota, 1647. In folio bound in ivory parchment (Modern binding) decorated with an engraved title with a rich architectural frame, a folding map and a city view, both out of text, and 28 engravings in-text. Headbands and woodcut illustrations. First edition of this work, which was the first book printed in Malta. The author Abela (1582-1655), is considered the first Maltese historian; he explores the history, traditions, folklore and language of Malta. This work, republished in the 18th century, is a major source of information about the island. Labeled with the figure M.G. crowned at the tail of the spine, from the library of H.R.H. Princess Marie-Gabrielle of Savoy. Sold: CHF 6,200 (USD 6,900)
Works of historical interest, coming directly from the personal collections of the Kings of Italy and Belgium, such as the first work printed in Malta on the history of the island, won for CHF 6,200 (USD 6,824), rubbed shoulders with beautiful bindings bearing the arms of this illustrious family, like this binding bearing the arms of Charles-Emmanuel I, acquired by the Conseil Départemental de la Haute-Savoie for CHF 2,000 (USD 2,199).
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