Late entertainer David Bowie’s art collection, recently auctioned by Sotheby’s, is an eclectic mix of cultures and concepts
Musician, icon, actor, curator, publisher… David Bowie was all this and more. He was known among critics, however, as above all an innovator – a creative mind that enjoyed experimenting with
His taste in art, on display at the recent Sotheby’s auction of his entire collection in Dubai, introduced him to his fans the world over as a mind that also appreciated other minds like his own – minds that went beyond the confines of normative aesthetic principles and brought to life works of art that were as much statements of individual identity as they were manifestations of eclectic ideas.
Born in south London, it is perhaps not surprising that he was drawn to chroniclers of the capital’s streets such as Frank Auerbach.
Looking beyond England, he also found and collected contemporary African art, works by self-taught artists from Vienna’s Gugging institution, and also designs by Ettore Sottsass and
the revolutionary Memphis group besides surrealist and German Expressionist works.
When the collection went under the hammer, it set 59 new auction records and sold for a total of £24.3 million. The highest-selling item was a graffiti-inspired canvas titled Air Power by Basquiat, which sold for £7.09 million.
TOP GUN ON THE TRACK
Experience the ultimate supercar in the limited edition Aston Martin Vulcan – hand-crafted, customised and unutterably luxurious
By: Harman Raj Madon
emember James Bond? That suave English gentleman with the coolest moves, whether in hand-to-hand combat or behind the wheel of a car? Do you think he was born that good? While we mightn’t speculate on other aspects of James’ prowess, here at last we have tangible proof of what makes Bond, Bond. At the wheel, that is – which is a start.
Look at it. This isn’t the notebook doodle of some bored nerd at MI-5 HQ; instead, it’s the culmination of years’ work at the pinnacle of engineering. You don’t make a car like the Aston Martin Vulcan one fine day. You arrive at it after several decades of honing your art. In Aston Martin’s own words: “Explore the new standard in the ultra-high luxury supercar class…” Can you count the superlatives?
It’s recognisably an Aston Martin, yet undeniably distinct. Built mostly out of carbon fibre and magnesium, with some aluminium and very little steel, it’s lighter than you might imagine it to be. The chassis is hand-built, the engine is hand-built, as is the suspension and the body, and so on. Every bit on this car is built by specialists: those artisanal engineers who’ve dedicated a lifetime to perfect a single part – which is what makes it special.
So that’s the car. For the complete experience, you need to be able to know what to do with it. After all, you represent Her Majesty’s Service. Coaching you on how to get the best out of the Vulcan is a certain Mr Darren Turner. He’s the man who’s taught Bond how to drive like Bond, and if you manage to buy a Vulcan – if – then he’ll be there to teach you as well. It’s a rite of passage, no less. You must first drive Aston Martin’s more pedestrian cars to Mr Turner’s satisfaction, before progressing up to the Vulcan.
Of course, it’s incredibly fast in a straight line and can go around corners fast enough to give you internal bleeding and soft tissue damage. There are eleven different settings each for the anti-lock brakes and the traction control, and three driver-selectable power settings. This allows you to tailor the car to your liking, depending on which racing circuit you are driving on. No, the Vulcan is not road-legal and therefore cannot be driven on a public road. It is a track-only car and the primary tool with which you can enjoy the pleasure of playing at being a racing driver.
Aston Martin has plans to build only 24 Vulcans. Asking how much each costs is in poor taste, especially given that experiences are priceless. But for the good men from Gaydon this is a business, and they’ll happily sell you one for `15 crore, before taxes, duties and tuition. Of course guns, knives and prophylactic dispensers cost extra.