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Dec. 5: James Christie held his first auction on this day 247 years ago

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This triceratops skull, excavated from private land in Montana, sold at Christie's for more than $300,000.

On this day in 1766, James Christie held his very first auction in London.

Fast forward nearly two-and-a-half centuries and Christie’s has become one of the most powerful auction houses in the world, selling billions of dollars in fine art, furniture, jewelry, wine and collectibles each year.

Although Christie’s specializes in selling artwork created by masters like Picasso, Warhol and Cezanne, it has branched out over the years. Recently, the auction house offered bidders a few more niche items, including pricey pop culture garb like Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry and Madonna’s stage costumes, and turn-of-the-century playground equipment.

Here are five of Christie’s more unusual auctions:

Elton John’s car collection: In June 2001, Elton John auctioned off 20 of his cars saying that he didn’t have time to drive them. Included among them were Jaguars, Ferraris, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys that went for more than $3.3 million together.

The Starship Enterprise: In October 2006, Christie’s auctioned off 1,000 lots of official Star Trek props and memorabilia from the CBS Paramount Television studios, including a model of the Starship Enterprise used in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It sold for $500,000.

George Washington’s personal documents: In 2012, Christie’s auctioned off George Washington’s personal annotated copy of the “Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America.” It spells out the nation’s earliest drafted laws from the first session of the First Congress in September 1789, including the Constitution of the United States and a draft of the Bill of Rights. It sold for nearly $10 million.

A very expensive little black dress: The form-fitting black dress Audrey Hepburn wore in what may be her most famous role, as Holly Golightly in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” A buyer scooped that up for nearly half a million dollars in 2006.

A triceratops skull: The skull of a triceratops was excavated from private land in Montana and sold earlier this year. It fetched more than $300,000.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.

 

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