A set of 1985 Andy Warhol portraits of four female monarchs reigning at the time, alongside works by David Hockney, Picasso Pablo, Banksy, and Cecily Brown and other British contemporary artists, will highlight Phillips’ editions sale in London later this month.
Warhol created a total of 16 royal-edition screenprints of the four Queens, including Queen Elizabeth II of the U.K., Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and Queen Ntfombi Tfwala of Swaziland. The so-called royal editions have different colour schemes, but all feature glimmering diamond dust, which accentuate the outline of the portraits.
This set of four images is being offered by a private, anonymous Dutch collector, who acquired them from Holland Art Gallery in Eindhoven in 2003, according to Phillips.
The set has an estimated total between US$260,000 and US$395,000. The highest-priced in the set is the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, who died last September at the age of 96 after a seven-decade reign. It has a presale estimate of between £200,000 and £300,000 (US$240,000 and US$360,000)
A similar portrait from Warhols’ Reigning Queens series sold for C$1.14 million (US$855,000) last November at Canadian auction house Heffel, setting a record price for an editioned print by the American Pop artist.
Warhol’s portraits of Queen Elizabeth were based on photographs. A drawing of Queen Elizabeth said to be by Warhol was pulled 24 hours before its scheduled auction last week because of authentication doubts.
Phillips editions (prints and multiples) sale, in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Editions Department in London, will feature 310 lots across two sessions from Jan. 18-19. Online bidding is open now and highlights will be on view to the public starting next Wednesday in Phillips’ galleries on Berkeley Square.
Another highlight of the sale is Hockney’s 1998 Dog Wall, a large-scale etching of his dachshunds, Stanley and Little Boodgie. It is expected to sell for between £200,000 and £300,000.
A selection of 15 works by Picasso, including important etchings and linocuts, will be led by Minotaure aveugle guidé par Marie-Thérèse au pigeon dans une nuit étoilée (Blind Minotaur Guided Through a Starry Night by Marie-Thérèse with a Dove). This 1934 work, depicting Marie-Thérèse Walter, his lover and muse at the time, holding a dove, has a presale estimate between £60,000 and £80,000.
In all, the January auctions will “feature some of the titans of 20th and 21st century printmaking and explore the broad spectrum of techniques that make collecting editions so enjoyable,” Rebecca Tooby-Desmond, a specialist and auctioneer at Phillips London, said in a news release.
In 2022, the auction house realised US$40 million in editions auctions globally, the highest total in its history, Tooby-Desmond said.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Couples find that lab-grown diamonds make it cheaper to get engaged or upgrade to a bigger ring. But there are rocky moments.
Wedding planner Sterling Boulet has some advice for brides-to-be regarding lab-grown diamonds, which cost a fraction of the natural ones.
“If you’re trying to get your man to propose, they’ll propose faster if you offer this as an option,” says Boulet, of Raleigh, N.C. Recently, she adds, a friend’s fiancé “thanked me the next three times I saw him” for telling him about the cheaper lab-made option.
Man-made diamonds are catching on, despite some lingering stigma. This year was the first time that sales of lab-made and natural mined loose diamonds, primarily used as center stones in engagement rings, were split evenly, according to data from Tenoris, a jewellery and diamond trend-analytics company.
The rise of lab-made stones, however, is bringing up quirks alongside the perks. Now that blingier engagement rings—above two or three carats—are more affordable, more people are dealing with the peculiarities of wearing rather large rocks.
Esther Hare, a 5-foot-11-inch former triathlete, sought out a 4.5-carat lab-made oval-shaped diamond to fit her larger hands as a part of her vow renewal in Hawaii last year. It was a far cry from the half-carat ring her husband proposed with more than 25 years ago and the 1.5-carat upgrade they purchased 10 years ago. Hare, 50, who lives in San Jose, Calif., and works in high tech, chose a $40,000 lab-made diamond because “it’s nuts” to have to spend $100,000 on a natural stone. “It had to be big—that was my vision,” she says.
But the size of the ring has made it less practical at times. She doesn’t wear it for athletic training and swaps in her wedding band instead. And she is careful to leave it at home when traveling. “A lot of times I won’t take it on vacation because it’s just a monster,” she says.
The average retail price for a one-carat lab-made loose diamond decreased to $1,426 this year from $3,039 in 2020, according to the Tenoris data. Similar-sized loose natural diamonds cost $5,426 this year, compared with $4,943 in 2020.
Lab-made diamonds have essentially the same chemical makeup as natural ones, and look the same, unless viewed through sophisticated equipment that gauges the characteristics of emitted light.
At Ritani, an online jewellery retailer, lab-made diamond sales make up about 70% of the diamonds sold, up from roughly 30% two years ago, says Juliet Gomes, head of customer service at the company, based in White Plains, N.Y.
Ritani sometimes records videos of the lab-diamonds pinging when exposed to a “diamond tester,” a tool that judges authenticity, to show customers that the man-made rocks behave the same as natural ones. “We definitely have some deep conversations with them,” Gomes says.
Not all gem dealers are rolling with these stones.
Philadelphia jeweller Steven Singer only stocks the natural stuff in his store and is planning a February campaign to give about 1,000 one-carat lab-made diamonds away free to prove they are “worthless.” Anyone can sign up online and get one in the mail; even shipping is free. “I’m not selling Frankensteins that were built in a lab,” Singer says.
Some brides are turned off by the larger bling now allowed by the lower prices.When her now-husband proposed with a two-carat lab-grown engagement ring, Tiffany Buchert, 40, was excited about the prospect of marriage—but not about the size of the diamond, which she says struck her as “costume jewellery-ish.”
“I said yes in the moment, of course, I didn’t want it to be weird,” says the physician assistant from West Chester, Pa.
But within weeks, she says, she fessed up, telling her fiancé: “I think I hate this ring.”
The couple returned it and then bought a one-carat natural diamond for more than double the price.
When Boulet, the wedding planner in Raleigh, got engaged herself, she was over the moon when her fiancé proposed with a 2.3 carat lab-made diamond ring. “It’s very shiny, we were almost worried it was too shiny and was going to look fake,” she says.
It doesn’t, which presents another issue—looking like someone who really shelled out for jewellery. Boulet will occasionally volunteer that her diamond ring came from a lab.
“I don’t want people to think I’m putting on airs, or trying to be flashier than I am,” she says.
For Daniel Teoh, a 36-year-old software engineer outside of Detroit, buying a cheaper lab-made diamond for his fiancée meant extra room in his $30,000 ring budget.
Instead of a bigger ring, he got her something they could both enjoy. During a walk while on an annual ski trip to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Teoh popped the question and handed his now-wife a handmade wooden box that included a 2.5-carat lab-made diamond ring—and a car key.
She put on the ring, celebrated with both of their sisters and a friend, who was the unofficial photographer of the happy event, and then they drove back to the house. There, she saw a 1965 Mustang GT coupe in Wimbledon white with red stripes and a bow on top.
Looking back, Teoh says, it was still the diamond that made the big first impression.
“It wasn’t until like 15 minutes later she was like ‘so, what’s with this key?’” he adds.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’