The 10 Most Expensive Luxury Items Ever Sold
Unfathomable wealth has always found a way to express itself through the purchase of luxury items. Across centuries, the world’s richest individuals have sought out rare artifacts, precious jewels, and priceless works of art to add to their collections. Below, we delve into some of the most expensive luxury items ever sold, each with a tale that is as unique and captivating as the item itself.
Ringo Starr’s 1963 Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl Three-Piece Drum Kit – $2.2 million (2015)
The vintage drum kit, once owned by the legendary Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, was sold at a Julien’s Auction. The extraordinary piece of music history fetched a mind-boggling $2.2 million, as one lucky fan secured an item that had played a part in creating some of the world’s most memorable music.
Leica 0 Prototype 1 Camera – $2.8 million (2012)
Proving that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, or rather a few million dollars, a vintage Leica camera was sold for a staggering $2.8 million. This wasn’t just any camera, but the Leica 0 Prototype 1, the original 35 mm camera. The piece stands as a testament to the revolution of photography and the memories captured over the ages.
Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” Dress – $4.8 million (2016)
The iconic, bedazzled strapless gown was a custom design by Jean Louis, featuring more than 2,500 hand-stitched crystals. It sold for a hefty $4.8 million, highlighting the enduring fascination with Monroe and her place in popular culture.
Harry Garner Reticulated Vase – $9 million (2020)
The 18th-century Chinese vase, originally made for China’s Qianlong Emperor, spent 50 years in a pet-filled country home in Europe before it was sold for an astounding $9 million. Rediscovered by an art consultant, the vase was identified as an extraordinary artifact and sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Chinese Works of Art Spring 2020 Sales Series. The vase’s journey from the Forbidden City in Beijing to a European country home, and then to the auction house, was as remarkable as its auction price.
Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 – $31.19 million (2019)
The wristwatch set a new record for the most expensive watch ever sold at auction. Manufactured by the prestigious Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe, the Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010 was sold in Geneva for over $31 million
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – $48.4 million (2018)
An embodiment of speed and style, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO broke records when it sold at an auction in 2018 for an impressive $48.4 million. It is the pinnacle of luxury automobiles and a symbol of Italian design and engineering prowess.
Leonardo da Vinci’s “Codex Leicester” – $56.3 million (1994)
The Codex Leicester is a collection of largely scientific writings by Leonardo da Vinci. The codex was sold to Bill Gates at Christie’s auction house in New York for over $56 million, adjusted for inflation. This purchase makes it the most expensive book ever sold
The Pink Star Diamond – $71.2 million (2017)
Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, this 59.60 carat, fancy vivid pink diamond shattered every price record for a diamond or jewel sold at auction. The Pink Star Diamond is prized for its size, clarity, and intensity of color. Like a great work of art, experts say there will never be another one like it
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe – $142.8 million (2022)
The car was sold at a secret auction at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Germany. The 1955 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe is one of only two in existence, making it a rare gem in the world of luxury automobiles. Its sale price significantly surpassed the previous record for the most expensive car ever sold at auction, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO for $48.4 million
Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” – $450.3 million (2017)
Regarded as a lost masterpiece, the “Salvator Mundi” was sold at Christie’s New York to Dmitry Rybolovlev. The painting, which dates back to around 1500, portrays Christ as the savior of the world and is one of fewer than 20 known paintings by Leonardo da Vinci
From vintage drums to masterpiece paintings, these top ten most expensive luxury items ever sold showcase the wide range of artifacts and collectibles that attract the attention of the world’s wealthiest individuals. These items, each with its unique story and significance, represent not only immense financial value but also historical, artistic, and cultural importance. They remind us of the enduring allure of rarity and the timeless appeal of beauty and craftsmanship. Whether it’s a masterpiece painting, a rare diamond, a classic car, a unique wristwatch, or a scientific diary, these items are much more than their price tags – they are symbols of human achievement, creativity, and legacy.