Carved ruby dragster celebrates Southern California and racing history at Bonhams

Los Angeles – On May 21 Bonhams will offer the first carved ruby scale-model of a dragster to be featured at public auction during its Gems, Minerals & Lapidary Works of Art sale. This unique vehicle is modelled after the famed Greer-Black-Prudhomme Dragster, which was raced by Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, built by Kent Fuller and tuned by Keith Black. Carved by designer Luis Alberto Quispe Aparicio from solid panels of ruby, the model is detailed with Obsidian tyres, a gold vermeil engine and a polished rock crystal wind screen. The dragster measures approximately 60 centimetres in length and is estimated to bring $150,000-200,000.

The full-scale dragster was first raced in June 1962 at the Pomona Drag Strip in Southern California. Many credit this vehicle with launching the career of Prudhomme, who is one of the most winning drivers in the history of quarter-mile drag racing. He won more than 90 percent of the races that he entered between 1962 and 1964. According to many, this car played a key role in that success – it led drag racing during a time when consistent quarter mile times topped out at less than 8 seconds at more than 190 miles per hour.

According to Claudia Florian, Co-Consulting Director of Natural History, "This is one of the most comprehensive offerings of fine gemstone carvings to come to market in recent years and Bonhams is the market leader in this field. We look forward to presenting the Greer-Black-Prudhomme Dragster along side lapidary works of art in all genres and collecting areas."

The Greer-Black-Prudhomme Dragster model joins many other lapidary highlights in the May 21 Gems, Minerals & Lapidary Works of Art sale as does "This Skull is on Fire," a flawless rock crystal, gold vermeil and Obsidian creation also by Quispe Aparicio (est. $12,000-15,000).

Additional carved works of note include "Lost Love," a gem aquamarine, diamond, platinum and 18K gold erotic sculpture by New York society jeweller Henry Dunay (est. $150,000 - 200,000) as well as a standing lion made from carved jasper by Christopher Schmidt, Idar-Oberstein, Germany (est. $5,500-6,500) and a duck made from labradorite by Manfred Gettman, Idar-Oberstein, Germany (est. $3,000-4,000) both from a Private East Coast Collector. (Please see separate press release.)

Auctions of natural wonders will continue on May 22 with a magnificent array of highlights including an Tyrannosaurus rex maxilla with seven beautifully preserved teeth, Hell Creek Formation, Montana (est. $70,000–90,000); an exceptional fossil palm frond in limestone matrix framed in walnut (est. $40,000–50,000); a massive set of antlers and skull from a prehistoric deer known as an "Irish Elk" (est. $30,000–36,000) and an unusual fossil palm flower which displays like a piece of modern art (est. $25,000–35,000). (Please see separate press release.)

The illustrated auction catalogue for both of these May auctions will be available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at

Preview: May 17-21, Los Angeles

Auction: May 21 and 22, Los Angeles


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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