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Pop star One of the most famous images of American pop art may become the most expensive 20th-century artwork ever auctioned when it goes under the hammer this month.

Andy Warhol’s 1964 silkscreen Shot Sage Blue Marilyn is expected to fetch $200m (£151m), according to Christie’s New York. Each of the series was painted on a different background of red, orange, blue, turquoise and sage blue (the one being auctioned). Some were pierced by a bullet fired by the performance artist Dorothy Podber, who asked Warhol if she could “shoot” them.

Above Warhol’s silkscreen image known as Shot Sage Blue Marilyn has an estimate of $200m (£151m)

POT ON Work by 50 leading ceramicists goes under the online hammer this month raising money for disadvantaged youngsters to access pottery studios. Pots by Keith Brymer-Jones, Edmund De Waal and Kate Malone are all on offer at the second FiredUp4 auction which sees bidding open on May 9.

Posthumous pots by Simon Carroll, (donated by his estate), a ceramic sculpture by Mo Jupp and a piece by Michael Cardew will also be on sale. Previous funds furnished two pottery studios in Lancashire and provided teaching staff. For more details go to

Below FiredUp4 staff with work by (l-r) Fernando Casasempere, Chris Keenen, Kate Malone and Miray Mehmet Fontanelli, image © Sylvain Deleu

Rock star A staggeringly large diamond nicknamed ‘The Rock’ is expected to make $30m (£23m) when it is sold in Geneva this month. The 228.31-carat pear-shaped gem, which was mined and polished in South Africa more than 20 years ago, is the largest white diamond ever to come to auction, said auction house Christie’s.

After touring Christie’s Dubai, the gemstone is set to travel to Taipei and New York before reaching the sale location in Switzerland.

Earlier this year, Sotheby’s sold ‘The Enigma’ for £3.2m. At 555.55 carats, with 55 facets, it was the largest cut diamond ever to come to auction – outstripping ‘The Golden Jubilee’ at 545.67 carats. Above Christie’s Rahul Kadakia with ‘The Rock’

Danish tasty London auction house Bonhams has acquired the family-run Danish auctioneers Bruun Rasmussen for an undisclosed sum. It is the third competitor the London-based auction house has bought since the beginning of this year.

It recently announced the acquisition of the Boston-based auction house Skinner, which was subsequently renamed Bonhams Skinner. In January, Bonhams also bought the Swedish auction house Bukowskis. Bruun Rasmussen is a family firm, founded in 1949 by Arne Bruun Rasmussen; his son Jesper is chairman emeritus and two grandchildren work there. It sells around 75,000 lots each year.

Right Bonhams has acquired the Copenhagen auctioneers Bruun Rasmussen

30 seconds with... Mark Wiltshire, a specialist in books and manuscripts at Christie’s What first attracted you to the auction world? I have loved books since my teenage years, but I wasn’t familiar with the rare book trade until after I graduated. Being a specialist at Christie’s means I am directly in touch with literature every day. I love writing catalogue descriptions detailing why a book is important, or why an author deserves to be read.

What has been your most exciting sale to date? I’ve worked on some incredible projects at Christie’s over the years, from sales of Shakespeare folios to the very best in scientific and mathematical books. One of my most exciting finds was a presentation copy of Ada Lovelace’s paper on digital computing, which achieved a world auction record for any printed work by a female scientist. I’m currently working on an auction of modern first editions by today best writers, including the likes of Hillary Mantel, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and Ian McEwan. They’ve been annotated by their authors with some incredible insights and will be sold to benefit the charity English PEN.

What do you dream of finding? My real literary love is poetry – particularly the Romantic poets. My dream find would be a book owned or annotated by John Keats, or an unknown autograph, letter or poem. This is slightly more likely than that other major literary holy grail – a Shakespeare autograph, or a book from the Bard’s library.

What advice have you got for the would-be book collector? Collect what you’re passionate about and reach out to a specialist who can help inform your decisions. Whether it’s Ian Fleming first editions, or medieval manuscripts, you should go after the things that inspire you. As specialists, we’re always delighted to speak with collectors about growing their collections.

Do you collect? If so, what? I’m still waiting to find a book from Keats’s library, so at the moment I try to collect uncommon Romantic-era poetry. I’m particularly interested to find copies that have been annotated by contemporary readers.

Mark is co-curator of the Art of Literature – a series of sales, exhibitions, views and events taking place throughout June and July at Christie’s in London.


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