Today's billionaire collectors showcase their art in specially designed museums often with their names over the door. The princes and aristocrats of the sixteenth century enshrined their most precious works in wunderkammern: rooms of wonder intended to be a reflection of the marvels of the world. The contents would include
naturalia, scientifica and exotica such as precious stones, metals, fossils as well as art and artefacts made by mankind from foreign lands.
With over 900 sales held worldwide each year and 60 collection departments, Bonhams sometimes feels like a giant wunderkammer. This edition of the Review contains an extraordinary diversity of naturalia and exotica items, from an important Chinese jade vase to a collection of 'hearts and arrows' diamonds sold in Hong Kong, and modern day scientifica, most notably the Apple 1 Motherboard sold in New York last October.
At the heart of every wunderkammer, a kabinettschrank like The Ballyfin Cabinet on pages 14 and 15 would have occupied pride of
place. The Ballyfin Cabinet, originally discovered by Bonhams back in 2006, is one of only a few known kabinettshranks in existence, and was one of the highlights of our European works of art sale
As usual in the Review there are some delightfully surprising links between the star lots. For example Bonhams are honoured to have been appointed to sell The Lauren Bacall Collection on 31st March and 1st April in New York. On page nine you will see one of the exquisite Henry Moore bronzes from her extraordinary collection that we sold
in November 2014. Turning to the next page, you will find the piano used on the set of Lauren Bacall's first husband, Humphrey Bogart's most famous film, Casablanca. All of which goes to show that the auction world is an easy place to play six degrees of separation.
I hope that you enjoy this look back at some of the most precious objects that have passed through Bonhams over the last six months.
Art Collections, Estates & Valuations
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