Five Things You Didn't Know About Auctions


Image: Instagram @christiesinc

2016 was quite the year for auctions, with rare artifacts and massive colored diamonds smashing records with sales reaching over tens of millions of dollars. You already know that the auctioned item goes to the highest bidder, but did you know…

‘Antique’ Royal Wedding Cake

Among the strangest things ever auctioned was a 65-year-old slice of fruit cake from the 1947 Royal Wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Reportedly rather well-preserved, the wedding cake slice also came with best wishes from a compliments slip from the Queen and Prince Philip themselves!

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Older Than USA

The first known auction house ever was founded in Sweden in 1674, a good century before the United States signed its Declaration of Independence in 1776, and was called the Stockholm Auction House. Even the auction houses we are familiar with today have hundreds of years of history, such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, which were founded in 1766 and 1744 respectively.

Most expensive

Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust remains one of the most expensive things ever sold in an auction, having fetched a staggering US$106.5 million. The record bidding took a mere 8 minutes.

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Flaming out

In the past, whether you won the bid depends on a candle, in the 1700s, the winner was determined as the highest bidder during the exact point when the candle snuffs out.

The Roman Empire was Auctioned

In 193 AD, the entire Roman Empire was offered to the highest bidder. After slaying emperor Pertinax, the Praetorian Guard put up the empire for auction, where Didius Julianus won the bidding for the price of 6,250 drachmas per guard. Unfortunately, that alone brought on a civil war that was as short-lived as his life – Didius was beheaded only two months later when Rome was conquered by Septimius.

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