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The Exceptional Sale realised £18,036,375/ $27,776,018/ €24,980,379. On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the Battle of France, the star of the sale was a unique and remarkable piece of British history – an authentic and immaculately restored Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk.1A – P9374/GMk. 1A which sold for £3,106,500/$4,784,010/€4,302,503, setting a world record price for a Spitfire at auction (estimate: £1,500,000-2,500,000). As part of a hugely generous gift from American philanthropist and art collector Thomas Kaplan, Spitfire P9374 was sold to benefit the RAF Benevolent Fund, leading wildlife conservation charity Panthera, WildCRU and Stop Ivory. P9374 is one of only two remaining Mk.1 models restored to the original specification and still flying; the other model, Spitfire N3200, also belonging to Thomas Kaplan, was gifted to the Imperial War Museum Duxford on 9 July 2015.
Robert Copley, Deputy Chairman Christie’s UK and Head of The Exceptional Sale: “The Exceptional Sale saw notable demand for individual masterpieces, led by an authentic Mark 1 Spitfire, which reached new heights as the unique sound of the Merlin engine roared across the sale room, establishing a new world record price for a Spitfire at auction. Christie’s pioneering sales platform, inaugurated in 2008, continued to welcome international bidding for works united by the common themes of rarity, provenance, craftsmanship and beauty. Strong prices were also realised for: a group of works representing differing visions of humanity, from Antiquity and Africa, which were led by a 19th century Luba female figure for a bowstand, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which set the second highest price at auction for an African work of art and the world record price at auction for a Luba figure; a sinuous and curvaceous pair of George III silver candelabra which set a new world record price at auction for a pair of silver, English candelabra; and a group of four Napoleonic relics.”