Shaun Leane’s personal archive commands £1.94m at auction

Shaun Leane guest edited the first issue of Professional Jeweller in 2011.

A dedicated sale of pieces from British jewellery designer Shaun Leane’s personal archive raised $2.6m (£1.94m) at Sotheby’s New York last night (Nov 4).

Entitled ‘Couture Fashion Jewellery: The Personal Archive of Shaun Leane’, the dedicated auction of over 40 works created by the British designer offered collectors and enthusiasts a unique opportunity to acquire pieces of fashion history including designs debuted in Alexander McQueen’s runway collections from 1996 through 2008, and appeared in The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum’s retrospective of his work in 2011 and 2015, respectively.

Following a bidding between private collectors and insitutions vying for a piece from the archive, the auction outshined the sale’s high estimate of $2 million.

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The auction was led by the Coiled Corset, which more than doubled its high estimate when it sold for $807,000 (£601,121) after a bidding battle lasting more than five minutes. The Corset, created for McQueen’s Autumn/Winter 1999-2000 ‘The Overlook’ collection, is the only piece from Shaun Leane’s near-20-year collaboration with the late designer that is signed by both visionaries.

Shaun Leane, creative director of the House of Shaun Leane comments: “The most beautiful part of this process for me is that these pieces have been admired, appreciated, and now accepted into new collections. I’m so happy to know that they will go on to inspire and provoke as they did the first day I created them.”

The Skeleton Corset was among the evening’s top lots, soaring over its $350,000 (£260,779) high estimate to achieve $711,000 £529,754. Created for McQueen’s Spring/Summer 1998 ‘Untitled’ collection, it was inspired by McQueen’s idea of taking the beauty of the human body’s internal structure, and turning it into an external adornment.

Created for The Honourable Daphne Guinness, the ‘Contra Mundum’ (Against the World) white gold and diamond evening glove fetched $312,500 (£232,826). Comprised of more than 4,000 diamonds, the object, inspired by Guinness’s life-long fascination with amour, took Leane more than four years to complete and was featured on the cover of V Magazine’s V99 issue.

“The prices achieved tonight reflect the brilliance of Shaun Leane in combination with the great Alexander McQueen, working together throughout the 1990s and 2000s when London was at its creative height,” adds Kerry Taylor, head of sale in collaboration with Sotheby’s. “These impressive, unique showpieces are truly iconic, and deserved to reach these record results. They will join both private and institutional collections who will appreciate, preserve and display them for generations to come. Bidders competed tonight to own an important part of 20th- and 21st-century fashion history, with top prices achieved for runway pieces made from base metals – proving that the value in those works was for their superb design, rather than for fine materials.”

Three other works that far outstripped their pre-sale estimates include the Coiled Collar (featured on the cover of Björk’s 1997 ‘Homogenic’ album) and the Silver Crown of Thorns headpiece (created for Alexander McQueen’s Autumn-Winter 1996-97 ‘Dante’ collection).

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