The specialist collector's auctioneer rises

The specialist collector's auctioneer rises
An exquisite 18cm wide archaistic white jade incense burner and cover from China's Qianlong era.

When it comes to auctions, Christie's and Sotheby's are the big names - at least until one tries to buy that rare single malt whisky, vintage Aston Martin or Leica camera.

Specialist collectors are likely to put Bonhams at the top of their watch list. The London-based auctioneer, which opened its Singapore office in February amid a burgeoning Asian collectors' market, is setting the pace in the specialists' market, said its Singapore director Bernadette Rankine.

She said: "Last year, Bonhams achieved a host of new world records, with a series of art records in London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, San Francisco and Los Angeles. World records were achieved for old-master paintings, jewellery, Russian art, Indian and Islamic art, Chinese art, contemporary African art and collectors' cars."

Rare blue diamond

Last April, at its fine jewellery sale in London, Bonhams sold an extremely rare fancy deep blue diamond weighing 5.30 carats for a record price of US$1.8 million per carat.

The previous world record price per carat for a blue diamond was US$1.68 million (S$2.12 million) bought by Graff Diamonds, the international diamond house headquartered in New Bond Street.

Then in November, a Bonhams sale of Chinese art in Hong Kong produced a world record for a single-owner collection of Yixing stoneware, with a price of £4.1 million (S$8.6 million) achieved.

Ms Rankine said Bonhams leads in 10 key areas of the UK auction market, including antiquities, arms and armour, watches and clocks, motor cars, European ceramics and Japanese art. "It is unrivalled in motoring - achieving world record prices for Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Aston Martin," she said.

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