First list of 25 drowned in UserSub, so we're back with a vengeance: twice as many objects that I will never be able to afford. Enjoy, and send me suggestions for any similar future lists!
Shoutout to @Cocopenguin618 for pointing out the wrong image for the ISS the first time around.
Sports Edition: http://imgur.com/gallery/g9JOi/new
1. (Cont.) Interior of the "Supercomplication"
One of the most complicated watches ever created, and by far the most complex design conceived without computer assistance, this 18 karat gold pocket watch was born out of a competition between American banker Henry Graves and James Ward Packard, founder of the Packard Motor Car Company, to obtain the most complex personal timepiece. It took three years to design the watch, and another five years to manufacture it, before being delivered to Graves in 1933. The Supercomplication had long been the world's most complicated timepiece ever assembled with a total of 24 different functions, including Westminster chimes, a perpetual calendar, sunrise and sunset times, and a celestial map of New York as seen from the Graves's apartment on New York's Fifth Avenue, and contains 920 individual parts. That record was not bested until 1989 when Patek Philippe again released yet another, even more complicated pocket timepiece known as the Patek Philippe Calibre 89. The watch was sold in a 2014 auction by Sotheby's on behalf of a member of the Qatari royal family to an anonymous bidder.
2. Most Expensive Car: 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
Price: $34,650,000 (though likely higher)
Considered the dominant race cars of the mid-1960's, just 36 examples of the Ferrari GTO rolled out of the factory (39 if you include those with slight variations) in the production run between 1962 and 1964. While rumors fly regarding unconfirmed private sales reaching upwards of $50,000,000 (several reputable sources detail the 2013 sale for a GTO at approximately $52,000,000, but as it was a private sale, neither the buyer nor the seller "officially" announced the transaction), the highest verified price on record is for this car, the second place finisher in the 1962 Tour de France Automobile and, somewhat less desirably, the only GTO to be involved in a fatal crash (Henri Oreiller, Montlhery, 1962).
3. Most Expensive American Car: 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racer
One of just 107 examples, the Ford GT40 is considered America's most successful foray into European racing (though several of the models were assembled in England, the engines were American-made), emerging out of a grudge match between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari following a failed acquisition of Ferrari by Ford. The GT40 would displace European powerhouses at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for four years, from 1966 to 1969 and become the only vehicle to win Le Mans multiple times using the same chassis, until Porsche would at last overcome the American obstacle. This particular example benefitted from its role as the camera car in Steve McQueen's 1971 film "Le Mans" and had a substantial racing history, all of which contributed greatly to its final price.
4. (Cont.) Atari 2600 "Air Raid"
Considered the rarest title sold in stores for the Nintendo Entertainment System (at least in the United States), "Stadium Events" was recalled due to a rebranding modification after an estimated 200 copies were sold, and featured track-and-field style gameplay. Today, only three are known in their original, factory-sealed condition. A 2010 eBay auction yielded a top bid of $41,300 for an example owned by a Kansas man who never purchased the Power Pad required to play the game, but the high bidder never paid; the record setting example seen here was owned by a former 22-year employee of Nintendo who sold the game on eBay in January 2015 for the unmatched price. Close behind is "Air Raid", considered one of the rarest Atari 2600 titles, in which the player shoots down flying saucers, which brought $33,400 in a 2012 auction by GameGavel. Potential contenders for the title include one of the two known copies of "Birthday Mania" (in which you blow out birthday candles. Exciting. Really, just riveting) or the unique "Gamma Attack", considered the rarest video game in the world, which was previously listed on eBay for $500,000, but went unsold.
5. (Cont.) Signature of William Shakespeare
While documents signed by famous political figures have gone for more, such as George Washington's signed copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, complete with annotations, the most inherent value in a lone signature belongs to the little-known Georgia politician Button Gwinnett. Born in England, Gwinnett would become one of the three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia by the age of 45, and serve briefly as the President of Georgia (though the duties performed were more closely related to those of a governor), dying just 10 months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in a duel with his political rival Lachlan McIntosh. The combination of his short lifespan and relatively short political career have led to a severe shortage of Gwinnett signatures; there are only 51 known, and just ten in private hands. Despite spending just 15 years of his life in America, his signature is now the key to assembling a complete collection of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence; regardless of the presence of names such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin on the list of needed names, a collector would spend more on a Gwinnett signature than they would on the remaining 55 politicians combined. The signature with the highest value (though one has never been sold) is likely that of William Shakespeare, of which only six examples exist today, all on legal documents held by English archives. If one were to come to market, it is estimated that it would bring in excess of $5,000,000.
6. (Cont.) "The Card Players", Paul Cezanne
Part of an extremely valuable collection assembled by the grandfather of retired Sotheby's executive Rudolf Staechlin, this piece was painted by famed French Impressionist Gauguin in 1892 during his first visit to Tahiti, aged 43-44, where he travelled to escape "everything that is artificial and conventional" in Europe. Nafea Faa Ipoipo, which roughly translates to "When Will You Marry?", depicts two young women in bright colors before a landscape - one in native dress, the other in a colonial, missionary style dress - symbolizing European convention and Polynesian custom. Having hung in Basel's Kunstmuseum for a period of 60 years, the piece was withdrawn following a falling-out between the institution and the owner. It was purchased in a private sale in 2015 by an anonymous buyer, but the purchaser is strongly thought to be the state-financed Qatar Museums, who previously set the same record in their 2011 purchase of Paul Cezanne's "The Card Players" for $259,000,000.
7. Most Valuable Coin: Australian 2011 One Tonne Gold Kangaroo
Price: ~$54,000,000 (when created; gold value has decreased in the interim)
With a legal tender value of $1,000,000 (AUS), the 2011 One Tonne Gold Kangaroo follows in the tradition of Australia's gold bullion series, which features a kangaroo on one side and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the opposite. The only difference is that most of the "Kangaroos" have a weight of one ounce when made, while this one weighs more than a metric tonne, tipping the scale at 1012 kilograms (over 2230 pounds) of 99.99% pure gold. While it has never been sold, being retained by the Australian Mint, spot gold price still grants it recognition as the most valuable coin in the world.
8. Most Expensive Coin (Outside of Inherent Value): United States 1794 Silver Dollar
The first metal dollar struck by the U.S. Mint, the 1794 Silver Dollar is considered among the rarest U.S. coins, and was sold for $10,016,875 (US) at Stack's Bowers Galleries in 2013. The sky-high price has catapulted the 1794 Silver Dollar to the leader of the pack over the 1933 Double Eagle ($20 gold piece, of which only one is currently legal for sale, with another ten in legal disputes, as they were all technically stolen from the Mint) at $7,590,020, and the 1787 Brasher Doubloon, a gold coin minted privately by the firm of Blanchard and Co., at $7,400,000. Graded "Specimen-66" out of a 70-point scale by the Professional Coin Grading Service, by far the finest known, and being one of between 120 and 130 pieces remaining in existence, this coin represents the pinnacle of achievement to American coin collectors.
9. Most Expensive Non-U.S. Coin (Outside of Inherent Value): 723 (A.D.) Umayyad Gold Dollar
The only non-United States coin in the top ten most valuable (besides the one-tonne Kangaroo) is the Umayyad dinar, dated A.H. 105 (an Islamic dating system, standing for "After Hijra", meaning after the migration of Muhammad from Makkah to Madina in 620 A.D.). One of the earliest Islamic gold coins, this example is composed of gold from the mine of the caliph, considered the political and spiritual successor to Muhammad, and is thought to possibly have been minted during the caliph's pilgrimage to Mecca. The coin was purchased in 2011 at a Morten & Eden auction by an anonymous buyer, purported to be a major European collector, and has not been exhibited in public since its purchase.
10. Most Expensive Man-Made Object: International Space Station
Price: $160,000,000,000 (and rising)
Conceived in 1985 and designed over the next decade, the ISS was eventually recognized as an international initiative following the fall of the Soviet Union, during which time U.S. President Bill Clinton oversaw an agreement with principal partners Russia, Japan, and Canada to fund the project. To date, the United States government has spent approximately $100,000,000,000 on the project, with the partner nations contributing the additional funds. Current cost of maintenance is a mere $3,000,000,000 per year.
11. Most Expensive Piece of (Grounded) Scientific Equipment: ITER International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor
Edging out the Large Hadron Collider by a mere half-billion, the ITER is a joint coalition by China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, with an anticipated completion date of 2016. This installation is an international tokamak (magnetic confinement fusion) research/engineering project that could help to make the transition from today's studies of plasma physics to future electricity-producing fusion power plants.
12. Most Expensive Airplane/Jet: B-2 Spirit "Stealth Bomber"
First developed by Northrop Grumman in 1989, in use since 1993, and with a recent upgrade that projects service to continue through 2058, the B-2 Spirit is a heavy strategic bomber, featuring low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses; it is a flying wing design with a crew of two. The bomber can deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons, and can carry sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear bombs. The B-2 is the only acknowledged aircraft that can carry large air-to-surface standoff weapons in a stealth configuration. Only 21 have been produced, and all (minus one crash) are still in service.
13. Most Expensive Private Airplane/Jet: Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal's Airbus A380
While the Airbus is conventionally a commercial airliner, when you're a Saudi prince worth about $22 billion, you can afford to make it your own. Despite something of a scandal regarding the Prince's purchase of the plane, including defaults on payments to Airbus and a rather quick resale, the aircraft still retains the spot as the most valuable plane bought privately.
14. (Cont.) 2003 Dodge Tomahawk
This Harley-Davidson was a pivotal piece in the 1969 film "Easy Rider", a counterculture classic. Sold by California-based auction company Profiles in History in 2014, this piece of movie memorabilia maintains the title of the most valuable motorcycle in existence. While that's the formal holder of the title, the most expensive original retail price of any motorcycle goes to the far more unusual 2003 Dodge Tomahawk, a four-wheeled concept bike with a full size Dodge Viper engine (500 horsepower, 500 cubic-inch V10) that propels the bike from zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, and a theoretical top speed of between 300 and 400 miles per hour (420 was the original number quoted by Dodge), though at that speed the laws of physics dictate that a rider cannot stay on the bike. Nine replicas were sold through luxury catalogue Nieman Marcus as "automotive sculpture" to avoid the fact that they are very much not street legal, at a price of $550,000 apiece.
15. Most Expensive Boat/Yacht: CVN-78 Class Aircraft Carrier
The newest class of supercarrier of the United States Navy, replacing the Nimitz-class, is the Ford-class; the first example, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is shown here. At a length of 1106 feet, containing 25 decks, a carrying capacity of more than 75 aircraft, and maintaining a pair of A1B nuclear reactors as a power source, CVN-78 is the most expensive seafaring vessel in history. Updates from previous generations of aircraft carriers include the implementation of an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, eliminating the need to store steam for more conventional launches.
16. Most Expensive Private Boat/Yacht: Eclipse
Though official costs have never been announced for the majority of "superyachts", one of the frontrunners is Eclipse, a 533 foot motor yacht built by Blohm and Voss for Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, and completed in 2010, and an estimated construction cost between $375,000,000 and $1,200,000,000 (that's quite a lot of room, I know, but details regarding construction tend to me nonspecific, particularly financial details). Requiring a crew of 70, this floating palace can reportedly accommodate 36 guests, and retains two helipads as well as its own submarine.
17. (Cont.) Buckingham Palace
Price: $500,000,000 - $700,000,000
Though not a home in the traditional sense, Antilia is the name given to the residence of Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man (at ~$23,000,000,000 net worth), who spent an unspecified amount, projected to conservatively be between $500,000,000 - $700,000,000, constructing this 27-story, 400,000 square-foot monolith in Mumbai, India. Containing, six underground parking floors (with space for 168 cars), three helicopter pads, a spa, terraced gardens, a ballroom, a 50-seat theater, and requiring a 600-person staff to maintain, Antilia is actually claimed to have risen in value to the $1,000,000,000 mark as the result of rising property values in south Mumbai. However, this property falls second in terms of evaluated property value to Buckingham Palace, which, with 775 rooms, including 52 bedrooms, 78 bathrooms, 92 offices, 19 state rooms, and 188 staff rooms, was estimated by the Nationwide Building Society of England to have a value of approximately $1.55 billion. As such, not likely to come onto the market anytime soon, so the title goes to Antilia.
This unique stamp has broken the world record for most valuable stamp at four different sales, commanding nearly eight figures at its most recent sale. Not bad for a 1 inch by 1.5 inch piece of colored paper. This stamp has a legend unmatched in the world of collectors: Issued as an emergency substitute for low numbers of official stamps by a newspaper in what is now Guyana, the piece was first sold by a Scottish boy named Vernon Vaughn after finding it in his family's papers, for a price of six shillings (then equivalent to approximately $1.50). From there it has been in several famous collections, was part of World War I reparations from Germany to France, and was underbid by English King George V, today remaining the only major rarity that is not represented in the Royal Family's heirloom collection of British stamps. It was sold most recently for the record-breaking price at a 2014 Sotheby's auction as part of the collection of John E. DuPont (of Foxcatcher infamy) to an anonymous bidder.
19. Most Expensive Piece of Paper Currency: 1890 United States Small Seal $1000 Treasury Note
This piece, the only copy in private hands, is referred to as the "Grand Watermelon" design due to the unusual resemblance of the zeroes on the reverse of the note to watermelons. The piece was such an unusual issue when printed, numbering less than 200 original pieces, that the selection of historical figures to put on the front of the bill was limited from Presidents and Founding Fathers to U.S. Civil War general George Meade, commanding officer of the victorious Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg, but a figure that was constantly overshadowed by the General in Chief, and future President, Ulysses S. Grant. The note's rarity, high denomination, and condition grade led to the record-setting sale by Heritage Auctions in early 2014.
20. Most Expensive Movie Poster: 1931 "Metropolis", International Version
Price: $690,000 - $1,200,000
One of four copies of the international version of this poster believed to exist, advertising Fritz Lang's influential science fiction film about a highly stylized futuristic city where a beautiful and cultured utopia exists above a bleak underworld populated by mistreated workers, was auctioned by the United States Bankruptcy Court in 2012. Of the remaining three examples of this, the "crown jewel of the poster world", only one is in private hands (anonymously held, though popularly believed to be Leonardo DiCaprio), the other two residing in the United States Museum of Modern Art and the Austrian National Library. In the early days of cinema, movie posters were considered to be common advertising equipment rather than a collectible, and were often thrown out. Pristine examples of classic films are today in high demand with relatively low supply; no original examples exist today of the classic 1922 "Nosferatu" or large versions of the original 1931 "Dracula", which would stand a decent chance of breaking the record if discovered. This piece was bought for $690,000 individually in 2005, and was part of a group lot containing classic movie posters as well as the original art for the poster advertising Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" which together brought the $1,200,000 high value and were sold to poster dealer Ralph DeLuca, accounting for the range in price seen above.
21. (Cont.) Audrey Hepburn's Ascot dress, "My Fair Lady"
While the film itself may be long gone from movie theatres, and is not even viewed as a popular film in the modern era, Marilyn Monroe's iconic scene in which her dress is seen billowing upwards thanks to a subway grate is considered one of the most iconic shots in American cinema. This dress, the very same worn in that scene that catapulted Monroe to stardom, was collected by American actress and singer Debbie Reynolds, as part of an assembly that took half a century of her life to put together. It was sold for the record-setting price in a 2011 auction by Hollywood-based firm Profiles in History, along with the close second place in this category, Audrey Hepburn's iconic dress from "My Fair Lady", which sold for $4,551,000 (before commission).
22. Most Expensive Movie Prop: Aston Martin DB5, "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball"
The most iconic car in the history of spy films, making a reappearance in 2012's "Skyfall", the DB5 is the quintessential Bond car. This particular model, chassis number DB5/1486/R, was the car primarily used for driving shots and was as a result referred to as the "Road Car" , making appearances as the preferred method of transport for Sean Connery in both "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball." Sold in a 2010 auction by Sotheby's, the vehicle made its way from London to the Ohio home of collector Harry Yeaggy. While this car was fitted with all the gadgets, including the dual machine guns, revolving license plates and ejector seat, it was not originally. The car that had all these modifications used during filming was another DB5, chassis number DP216/1, was called, quite sensibly, the "Effects Car", and was stolen from an airport hangar in Boca Raton, Florida in 1997, and has not been seen since. The car had a $4,000,000 insurance policy, but, given the performance of its fellow "Goldfinger" veteran, would likely be worth substantially more today.
23. (Cont.) 1980 Jawa Figure with Vinyl Cape
You'd think that the most expensive piece of memorabilia from one of the most successful and iconic movie franchises of all time would be a screen-used lightsaber or costume, but the holder of the title was never in front of the camera; it is the camera. Specifically, this is the Panavision PSR 35mm used by George Lucas for principal photography during the first Star Wars film in 1977. Included in the 2011 sale by Profiles in History were two 1000-foot. magazines, a Panaspeed motor, matte box, follow focus, a Moy geared head, and an Italian-made Elemack camera dolly and lens. The piece more than tripled its estimate and also holds the record for the most expensive movie camera in history. Unusually, Luke Skywalker's lightsaber is just ranked the fourth most valuable at a relatively low $240,000, behind the screen-used TIE Fighter that crashed into Darth Vader in Episode IV ($402,400) and the only snowtrooper helmet sold ($276,000). The most expensive Star Wars figure is the 1980 Jawa figure with a vinyl cape (as opposed to the common cloth variety) at $16,500.
24. Most Expensive Musical Instrument: 1721 "Lady Blunt" Stradivarius Violin
Earning its name from the 30 years spent in the possession of Lord Byron's granddaughter, Lady Anne Blunt, this instrument more than quadrupled the record for a Stradivarius when it was auctioned in 2011, though the price is assumed to have been inflated as the sale benefitted the Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund following the devastating events of the months prior. Considered to be exceptionally well preserved, the Lady Blunt was poised to be knocked off its pedestal in 2014 by the sale of the "Macdonald", a 1719 Stradivarius viola (one of just 10 violas left in existence by the master (Stradivarius created just 1100 instruments in his lifetime, of which nearly 650 survive. Of these, 512 are violins, making a Stradivarius viola more than 50 times rarer than a Stradivarius violin). Given the desire to obtain a full Stradivarius string quartet, which consists of a first and second violin, a cello, and a viola, the estimate for the piece was placed at $45,000,000 by Sotheby's, but failed to sell in the sealed-bid auction.
25. (Cont.) "L'homme au doigt", Alberto Giacometti (additional angle)
Considered one of the most important sculptors in history, with three of his works holding positions on the top ten most valuable pieces of art of all time, Giacometti is in a category all his own, called both a Surrealist and a Formalist, and this piece (translated to "Man pointing" or "Pointing Man") is considered to be his most iconic and evocative sculpture. As a sculpture, six casts of this 1947 piece were made in addition to an artist's proof, though the record-setting example here is believed to be the sole copy painted by hand to heighten its expressive impact. Two of the casts reside in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and London's Tate Gallery, but this example, one of a handful in private hands, had resided in the same collection for nearly half a century prior to its sale.
26. (Cont.) Californium
Matter consisting of antiparticles (which have the same mass of ordinary matter particles, but opposite charge, quantum spin, and a number of other characteristics) though still in its infancy, has been produced in infinitely small, yet detectable, amounts, as in CERN's 2010 production of 38 antihydrogen atoms, for a period of approximately 1/10 of a second. The cost to do so, however, is exorbitant. On a related note, the most valuable element is Californium, which does not occur naturally except in very small quantities, and can only be synthesized at a few locations, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (US) and the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (Russia). Highly radioactive and unstable, some consider it a strong candidate for the development of nuclear fission. Its rarity leads to a cost of $27,000,000/gram (still less than .1% the cost of antimatter).
27. Most Expensive Book/Manuscript: Codex Leicester (Codex Hammer), Leonardo Da Vinci
Codex Leicester was written around 1508, and is one of 30 or so similar books produced by Da Vinci across his lifetime. Within the Codex Leicester's 72 loose pages are around 300 notes and detailed drawings rendered in chalk and brown ink, alongside Leonardo's famed 'mirror writing'. All of these sketches are based around a common theme: water and how it moved. Codex Leicester's historical importance is further bolstered by the fact that Da Vinci is thought to have used its contents as research to paint the background of his masterwork, the Mona Lisa. Bought by billionaire Bill Gates in 1994, its pages were scanned into digital image files, some of which were later distributed as screen saver and wallpaper files on a CD-ROM as Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95. The Codex is put on public display once a year in a different city around the world, and is currently on view at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for the exhibition "Leonardo Da Vinci, the Codex Leicester, and the Creative Mind" and will remain on display there until August 30, 2015.
28. (Cont.) "Phantom", Peter Lik
The work has been described by arts writer Florence Waters in The Daily Telegraph as a "vibrant, beautiful and memorable – I should say unforgettable – contemporary twist on [...] the romantic landscape" and by journalist Maev Kennedy in The Guardian as "a sludgy image of the grey Rhine under grey skies". Whatever you want to call it, this chromogenic print of a photograph taken by Gursky in 1999 of the River Rhine, more than twelve feet long, mounted onto acrylic grass and framed, represents the most expensive photograph ever sold. One of six produced by the artist, and one of just two in private hands, this image was somewhat controversial as the artist used digital editing to create it, removing a factory and several individuals. In 2014, photographer Peter Lik claimed to have sold a print of his photograph "Phantom" for a price of $6,500,000, but the sale has not been verified nor has the anonymous buyer come forward, and is not acknowledged by the collecting community.
29. (Cont.) Bahia Emerald
This is a tough one. Gemstones are sold privately far more often than they are publicly, and resources tend to be conflicting; the highest reported private sale I could find was $80,000,000 for the Wittelsbach Diamond, formerly of the Bavarian Crown Jewels, until it was apparently sold to the emir of Qatar (though this is unsubstantiated). The gem (that I could find information on) that has sold for the greatest amount is the Graff Pink, which is classified by the Gemological Institute of America as "fancy intense pink"—a high color rating for pink diamonds—and has been assessed as Diamond type IIa, placing it in the top two per cent of the world's diamonds. The diamond is emerald cut with rounded corners, and is mounted on a platinum ring with two flanking shield-shaped diamonds. Though this stone is certainly the most expensive gemstone of which there is publicly available information (the Koh-i-noor, famously stolen from India, the largest diamond in the world, and now the centerpiece of the Crown of Queen Elizabeth, a part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, does not have a readily available appraisal, but it is very likely in excess of the Graff Pink), at least up to its auction date of November 2010, it is likely that a private, undisclosed sale has eclipsed this figure. In terms of estimated value, the greatest formal evaluation is assigned to the Bahia Emerald, originally discovered in the beryl mines of western Bahia State, Brazil, on July 9, 2001, and currently estimated to be worth in the region of $400,000,000. After being smuggled to the United States, the Bahia Emerald was eventually moved to New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, the Bahia Emerald became submersed under 16 feet of water for two months, before it could be retrieved. The enormous block of emeralds was then stolen by a gem dealer in Las Vegas. After a lead, it was taken into custody by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department in a large operation. According to some reports, the Bahia Emerald was involved in a $197 million banking transaction with Bernard Madoff before he was arrested. After a series of legal actions designed to get the emerald back, Judge John A. Kronstadt announced that he would hear the case, though no official ruling has been made yet; currently, there are eight individual parties with claims to the stone.
30. (Cont.) Ptolemy's "Cosmographia", 1477
This map holds significance in being the first map of the United States drawn and printed from within the United States, containing the first image of an American flag in a map, and being one of just seven surviving examples. Despite its importance, it was relatively unknown until the past decade. The map itself is notable for the fact that it contains absolutely no new cartographic information, instead using only existing sources, apart from Buell's exclusion of the word "New" from a number of place names; "New Orleans" became "Orleans" and "New Hampshire" became "Hampshire." Buell himself led an interesting life beyond the creation of his map, including a conviction for counterfeiting, resulting in the clipping of his ears and the branding of his forehead with the letter "C" which lasted the remainder of his life. The most expensive atlas is a 1477 edition of Ptolemy's "Cosmographia", the most comprehensive text on geographical knowledge assembled in the Roman Empire, which had a vast influence on both the Arabic and Italian Renaissance intellectual movements; it brought $3,991,970 in 2006 Sotheby's auction.
31. Most Expensive Letter: 1953 Letter from Francis Crick Detailing the Discovery of DNA
Written by Francis Crick in 1953 to his son Michael Crick, outlining the revolutionary discovery of the structure and function of DNA, this record-setting piece of paper was knocked down to an anonymous bidder in 2013. In the seven-page handwritten letter 'Secret Of Life to his 12-year-old son, Francis Crick describes his discovery of the structure of DNA as something "beautiful". It includes a simple sketch of DNA's double helix structure. The letter began: "My dear Michael, Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery. "We have built a model for des-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid (read carefully) called DNA for short" and concludes "Read this carefully so that you will understand it. When you come home we will show you the model. Lots of love, Daddy.'' Crick, along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, was given the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for "discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".
This piece is not actually used for the sport of Badminton in any way, but draws its name from the home of the Dukes of Beaufort, for whom it was made. Executed in ebony, gilt-bronze and pietra dura (essentially mosaics used in furniture), The Badminton Cabinet was made for Henry Somerset, 3rd Duke of Beaufort (who was 19 at the time of his order), by the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence, from 1720-1732, under the supervision of the Foggini family. Standing 386 cm high and 232.5 cm wide (151 ½ inches by 91 ¼ inches, more than 12.5 feet tall), this monumental Cabinet is considered the greatest Florentine work of art of its time, and possibly the most important work of the decorative arts to have been commissioned by a British patron in three hundred years. The Cabinet incorporates an amazing wealth of materials, from lapis lazuli, agate and Sicilian red and green jasper, to chalcedony and amethyst quartz. It was purchased at a Christie's auction in 2004 by Dr. Johan Kraeftner, Director of the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, on behalf of Prinz Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein for the same museum.
33. Most Expensive Flag: Ernest Shackleton's Royal Standard
The most expensive flag sold at auction is the Royal Standard rescued by Sir Ernest Shackleton from his doomed ship, the Endurance, which went to an anonymous buyer in 26 September 2002 for £116,000 ($180,600) at Christie's, London, UK. The flag was presented to Shackleton in 1914 by the dowager Queen Alexandra before he set off on his historic voyage to the Antarctic. The painted silk standard was one of only two things that Shackleton saved from his ship before it was crushed in the winter ice. The explorer then carried the flag inside his coat as he and his men set out on their heroic journey to Elephant Island. Shackleton eventually found help in South Georgia after making a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) journey across treacherous seas in a small open boat. The National Maritime Museum of the United Kingdom has attempted to purchase the flag several times, but it still remains in private (anonymous) hands.
34. (Cont.) Château Lafite, 1787
Sold in 2000, a six-liter bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet currently holds the unofficial title of most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at auction. It went under the hammer at a charity wine auction in Napa for the staggering sum of $500,000, and was reported to have been purchased by Chase Bailey, a former Cisco Systems executive. However, this record is considered invalid in the wine collecting world, due to its sale as a part of a fundraiser. The "official" holder of the title is an imperial bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc that was sold at auction for the sum of $304,375 in November 2010, setting a world record for the most expensive single bottle of wine ever sold at auction (and the highest of which public record is available). The now 68-year-old bottle, the only known bottle in the Imperial format from this particular Saint-Emilion vintage, was sold to a private collector at Christies, smashing the auction house's estimated price of between $150,000 and $200,000. By glass, the most expensive wine ever sold is a bottle of Château Lafite, 1787 that was thought to be from the personal cellar of Thomas Jefferson. At $26,075 per glass, it should probably be saved for a special occasion.
35. Most Expensive Bottle of Champagne: Goût de Diamants (Taste of Diamonds) Limited Edition
Made from 100% Grand Cru grapes, Goût de Diamants is produced at the 8-hectare, family-owned, Champagne Chapuy in Oger, and some varieties are aged for a minimum of 40 months. But don't go looking for this in stores, you won't find it. This brand sells exclusively to high-end bars, restaurants, hotels, and private clients. Each bottle of Goût de Diamants is adorned with a brilliant cut Swarovski crystal in the centre of a diamond-shaped pewter design resembling the Superman logo. That is, unless you're the lucky purchaser of the unique "Limited Edition" version of this bubbly. The bespoke bottle saw the diamond logo crafted from 18-karat solid white gold while the Swarovski crystal was upgraded to a 19-karat flawless white diamond. The 18-karat white gold front label, meanwhile, was engraved with the client's name. The champagne inside? Exactly the same.
36. (Cont.) Macallan "M"
Continuing the tradition of expensive bottles trumping expensive alcohol, most of the value of this bottle of tequila lies in the container rather than the contents. Made of 3.6 kilos of pure platinum and 6,400 diamonds, this bottle is the creation of Ami Mesika, one of the most prominent figures in New York City's "Diamond District." If you're a bit more conservative, cheaper options exist. The least expensive option sells for $225,000 and comes in a hand-crafted white gold and pure platinum bottle. The logo is also solid platinum. The "middle ground" is diamond-encrusted and fetches close to $1.5 million dollars. There were only a few bottles produced, and somehow they've all been sold, meaning you'll have to track down a billionaire booze hound and try to get him to sell you a bottle for 30 times the median household income of the United States. If whiskey is more your speed, you're in luck; the most expensive bottle of single-malt is the Macallan "M", which comes in a 6-liter Lalique decanter, and sold most recently in a Sotheby's auction for $631,850.
37. (Cont.) Gran Habano Corojo #5 El Gigante
Rather than boring hand-rolled Cubans, the most expensive assemblage of cigars ever sold were found in April of 2012, when a team of archeologists from Tampa University working in the southeast Guatemala unearthed a collection of over 800 pre-Columbian cigars, believed to be at least 600 years old. The cigars were buried several feet below the cave surface in sealed clay pots, each of which bore syllabic glyphs labeling the contents as sicars, meaning, 'to smoke rolled tobacco leaves.' The cave in which the cigars were found contained large natural deposits of potassium nitrate, as well as relatively constant temperature and humidity levels, rendering the clay pots in which the cigars were stored into natural humidors. The entire collection was purchased by Gary Liotta, owner of Santiago Cigar Factory, and several have been smoked by professional cigar reviewers. A majority have remarked that they maintain a relatively even burn with a unusually hot flavor, similar to a pepper. The most expensive single cigar ever sold is the Gran Habano Corojo #5 El Gigante, which is made to order, and contains 1600 pounds of tobacco, retailing for total price of $200,000. It comes with a "suction device" that allows 40 people to smoke the enormous stogie simultaneously.
38. Most Expensive Beanie Baby: Royal Blue Peanut the Elephant
To all you Imgurians who lost the tags for your Beanie Babies, don't fret. Even if you never played with them, odds are that they will never be worth much; the Beanie craze of the '90s, sparked by thoughts that the toys would one day be significant collectibles, has died down to record lows and doesn't show any signs of resurfacing. This particular Beanie, Peanut the Elephant, was issued on June 3, 1995 and retired on May 1, 1998. However, the royal blue version was only produced (accidentally) from June 3, 1995 to October 1995, and was only made with a 3rd generation heart tag. It is believed that only 2,000 of the royal blue version were produced making it one of the rarest Beanie Babies ever made; this particular example, the most expensive Beanie sold (that I could find a record of), was sold for just over $3000 on an internet auction in 2000. Figures fly about the rare 1997 "Employee version", of which only 300 were made, and were given to Ty employees and Reps on September 13, 1997 at the Second Annual Appreciation Night, or the "Princess Diana" Beanie, which has been listed on eBay for prices in the tens of thousands of dollars, but has never sold for anywhere near that range. The takeaway here is that you can most likely let your kids play with your old Beanie Babies.
39. Most Expensive Action Figure: 1964 G.I. Joe Prototype
This prototype, carefully constructed of hand-shaped and shaved plastic, hand-crafted metal, and hand-sewn fabric, was the brainchild of Don Levine, Creative Director at Hasbro in the mid-1960s, who developed an idea first proffered by licensing guru Stan Weston, that little boys would play with a doll as much as little girls would — it simply had to be the right doll, and it had to be called an "action figure." The prototype is crafted and consists of a plastic body with wire-spring joints, a hand-painted plastic head that was created by pulling a temporary mold from a carved wooden original and a completely hand-sewn uniform of olive-drab fatigues and requisite four-pocketed field jacket with a set of hand-stitched, superbly-detailed three-tiered chevrons worn on each shoulder, reflecting the rank of E-5 [sergeant]. Sold in a private sale overseen by Heritage Auctions in 2003, this piece, which serves more as a piece of pop culture than an average collectible, brought $200,000.
40. Most Expensive Sports Card: 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner
At more than five times the price of the second-place card in this category (a rare Babe Ruth rookie card from his brief career with the Baltimore Orioles, which sold for $517,000), the coveted Holy Grail of baseball cards is the American Tobacco Company's T206 card of Pittsburgh Pirates player Honus Wagner (sports cards were issued by tobacco companies for approximately half a century before they were used in packs of gum). This card was pulled from circulation after 200 had made it to market because Wagner didn't want to support tobacco use for his young fans; 57 exist today. A PSA 8 version (highest surviving grade) of the card traded hands with hockey star Wayne Gretzky and others. The card was discovered to have trimmed edges, which would greatly reduce its value, but that didn't stop Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendricks to purchase the card in a 2007 auction for $2.8 million. While Wagner himself is not a common name today when thinking about the early, great players of the sport, he is considered to be the greatest shortstop of all time, holds a record eight batting titles, and was one of the first five players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, with the same number of votes as Babe Ruth. The above image is a modern reproduction of the card.
41. (Cont.) Pikachu Illustrator Card
The "Black Lotus" card is part of Magic: The Gathering's "Power Nine"-- the nine most powerful cards printed in the early years of the game ("Ancestral Recall," "Time Walk," "Mox Sapphire," "Mox Jet," "Mox Ruby," "Mox Emerald," "Mox Pearl," and "Timetwister" are the others). "Black Lotus" cards were printed for the Alpha, Beta and Unlimited sets, with the Alpha being the most valuable because there were only an estimated 1,100 copies printed (the Beta card set run is estimated at 3,300). Though valued for their rarity, Black Lotus cards have been banned from all official tournament styles except Vintage. An example graded 9.5 by Beckett Grading Services reached the price of $27,302 in an eBay auction held in late 2013. However, this card's tenure as the most valuable may be short lived; the rarest Pokémon card in existence, has reached a price very close to the Black Lotus in the past. The Pikachu illustrator card, printed just one year after the franchise began and originally created as a reward for fans who submitted illustrations of their favorite characters, exists in just six examples, and a prominent card dealer, Scot Pratte, who owns two of the cards, claims to have received offers in excess of $50,000. But until a card actually sells for a price in that range, the title will remain with the Lotus.
42. Most Expensive Comic Book: Action Comics #1
This 1938 comic features not only the first appearance of Superman, Clark Kent, and Lois Lane, but this comic began the entire superhero genre that has followed during the 77 years since. It is referred to as the Holy Grail of comics and this is the finest graded copy to exist with perfect white pages. Accepted as filler material after being rejected by 17 other publishers, Superman's first adventure was so intent on shoehorning action in that creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster only developed half a page's worth of backstory for the hero. An original copy of the Action Comics #1 that initially cost 10 cents and introduced Earth to Superman became the world's most expensive comic book in 2014 when it raked in $3.2 million on eBay. Just two hours after the start of the auction, the price had jumped from its $0.99 starting bid to more than $1,500,000. No other copies of Action Comics #1 have been graded higher and only one other has ever received a 9.0, with an estimated 50 copies remaining in existence. The multimillion-dollar issue topped another Action Comics #1, previously owned by actor and avid Superman fan Nicolas Cage, which sold in 2011 for $2.16 million, and maintains a firm lead over the second-place holder, Detective Comics #27, which brought in $2,200,000 for its most valuable example, and features the 1939 debut of Batman.
43. Most Expensive Music Record: "Double Fantasy" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Signed for Mark David Chapman
The copy of Lennon's iconic "Double Fantasy" album, released in 1980 and featuring the former Beatle and his wife, Yoko Ono, currently holds the title of the most expensive music record ever sold. This copy was signed by Lennon on December 8th, for Mark David Chapman, who returned five hours later and killed the former Beatle. Phillip Michael, a maintenance worker, found the album outside the Manhattan apartment building where Lennon's killer murdered the legendary singer-songwriter just moments earlier. He submitted the album to police, who later returned it to him after an investigation into Lennon's death on December 8, 1980. The record itself was released just three weeks prior to the end of Lennon's life, and despite initial poor reviews and slow sales, the tragedy associated with the singer prompted a buying surge, and the album would go on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1981. An original 1958 recording of the Quarrymen, who would go on to become the Beatles, has been evaluated in excess of this price, but the unique acetate disk is owned by Paul McCartney with a very low likelihood of being sold in the near future.
44. Most Expensive Pistol or Pistol Set: Pair of Steel-Mounted "Saddle" Pistols owned by George Washington
44. (Cont.) 1836 Colt Paterson Revolver
This pair of pistols, marked by Jacob Walster, were owned by President George Washington during America's Revolutionary War. The young Marquis de Lafayette purchased the pair in Europe and brought them to America when he volunteered to fight for the United States. During the American Revolution, Lafayette presented the pair to General George Washington, who all but adopted him as a son. Washington is believed to have carried them at Valley Forge, Monmouth, Yorktown, and during the Whiskey Rebellion when he was president. He cherished the pistols until his death in 1799. Later, the weapons were given to General Andrew Jackson, who called them "sacred and holy relics" and prized them throughout his presidency and bequeathed them back to the Lafayette family. The guns were purchased at an auction by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War and the critical role that Washington played in the history of the region and the nation. They are currently on display at Fort Ligonier in Pennsylvania. The highest price ever paid for a single pistol is $977,500, for a very rare, ivory-gripped Texas (Holster Model No. 5) Paterson Revolver, the finest known surviving example of Samuel Colt's first revolver.
45. Most Expensive Long Gun (Rifle/Shotgun): Fox Co. Double Barrel Shotgun Owned by Theodore Roosevelt
One common misconception about Theodore Roosevelt is that he was fond of hunting. In fact he was totally fanatical, to the point that he said hunting would be the first thing he'd do upon relinquishing his presidency. He wasn't joking: Roosevelt embarked on a year-long Smithsonian African expedition in March 1909 — the very same month he left the White House. In about thirteen months, Teddy's party killed and trapped an estimated 11,400 animals ranging from insects to elephants, including six rare white rhinos, for preservation in American Museums. Roosevelt's epic excursion was all about killing rare species in the name of science and history – morally questionable as that may be – and the shotgun pictured above was part of this mission. The Fox Gun Company made the gun especially for Roosevelt's safari as he ended his presidential term. That one of America's most loved presidents remarked "it is the most beautiful gun I have ever seen" (and then got downright trigger-happy with it) certainly fueled its $862,500 selling price at a 2010 Julia Inc. gun auction. Those cleaning cloths — torn slivers of Roosevelt's pajamas — also certainly added some value.
46. Most Expensive Bladed Weapon: Napoleon Bonaparte's Marengo Cavalry Saber
The most expensive antique weapon to have ever sold at auction is a gold encrusted sword used by Napoleon Bonaparte in battle around 200 years ago. The 32-inch sword brought 4.8m ($6.5m) against a 1.2m pre-sale estimate at an Osenat auction in Fontainebleau, France in 2007. Napoleon used the sword at the Battle of Marengo in 1800 to take control of northern Italy from Austria. He had just taken power in a coup and used his victory at Marengo to consolidate his power in France — a history that makes the sword even more valuable. Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804. Napoleon was so impressed with the swords used by the Mamelukes in Egypt that he ordered this one made in the same shape upon his return to France, having noticed that the curvature of the blade made decapitations easier. Discord within the Bonaparte family was the reason the sword was on the auction block; part of the family did not want to sell it. The sword was declared a national treasure in 1978 and, while it may be sold to a foreign buyer, they must have a French address and keep it in France for six months a year.
47. Most Expensive Piece of Disney Memorabilia: Film Celluloid from "The Band Concert"
The most expensive Disney collectibles to have been sold has to be the most expensive celluloid to feature Mickey Mouse. The celluloid is from the short animation "The Band Concert" (1935); the first film to feature the lovable rodent in color. Its story follows the charming Mickey Mouse attempting to conduct his band in a rendition of "The William Tell Overture", encountering many show stopping problems including a bee, a storm and a sales pitch from Donald Duck for popcorn and lemonade. The true value of the celluloid is found in the fact that it is the only one that shows the entire band playing together. It sold for its remarkable price tag in 1999 in a private sale.
48. Most Expensive Antiquity: The Guennol Lioness
Diminutive in size, but monumental in conception, The Guennol Lioness is of Elamite origin and is thought to have been made between 3000 and 2800 BCE—the same period in which writing systems were being developed, the wheel was being invented, and cities were beginning to rise in the region of ancient Mesopotamia. The figure depicts a standing lioness looking over her left shoulder, her paws clenched in front of her muscular chest. Experts believe that the Lioness would have been used to ward off evil, and that it was probably owned by a person of high social standing. It also must be noted that many Ancient Near Eastern deities were portrayed as figures of both animal and human attributes, encapsulating the Mesopotamian belief in the attainment of power through the combining of the physical attributes of different species. The sculpture was acquired in 1948 by Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife Edith, whose revered Guennol Collection of choice masterworks across countless periods and cultures has been celebrated by scholars and museums for decades. The Guennol Lioness had been on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for nearly 60 years and extensively published prior to its sale.
49. Most Expensive Animal: Fusaichi Pegasus (Thoroughbred Racehorse)
Price: $60,000,000 - $70,000,000
Though rare animals sold illicitly may have brought more, the most expensive animal ever sold (that I have found evidence of) is Fusaichi Pegasus. The most expensive horse (and likely animal) ever sold, Fusaichi Pegasus was a considerable racer. He won the Kentucky Derby in 2000 and finished his racing career with nine starts, six wins and two losses. More impressively, Fusaichi Pegasus won $1,994,400 during his career. After being retired from racing, Fusaichi Pegasus became the most sought after horse for breeding since Shareef Dancer seventeen years prior. He also became the most expensive in 2000 when Irish breeder Coolmore Stud, the world's largest thoroughbred breeding operation, bought him for a price estimated to be between $60,000,000 and $70,000,000. Initially his stud fee (the amount charged to have a given animal breed with another) was set at $150,000. After a disappointing career as a breeding horse, Fusaichi Pegasus now resides in Kentucky with a stud fee of $7,000, making him the most expensive (and quite possibly least worth the price) horse ever sold.
50. (Cont.) The Ashera Cat (Savannah Cat)
The most expensive conventional cat (excluding big cats) was Cato, a second-generation Bengal (the result of a cross between a house cat and an Asian Leopard cat) who was sold to Cindy Jackson of London by breeder Lord C. Esmond Gay of Bedfordshire, England in 1998. It is unknown if there is any viable rationale for this price, as Bengals typically cost between $1000 and $4000, but Gay is known for selling to celebrity clientele and has been claimed to use unorthodox breeding methods. Cato is known to wear an 18-karat gold and diamond Cartier necklace as a collar. (This record has claimed to be surpassed, but if it has, I could find no evidence of the sale itself).
A possible contender for the title, though no specific sale was located, is the Ashera cat, a type of hybrid cat marketed by the controversial company Lifestyle Pets. The hybrid cat breed was allegedly a cross between the African serval, the Asian leopard cat, and a domestic housecat. The truth though — discovered with the aid of DNA testing — was that the "Ashera" cats were simply Savannah cats which were bought from a different breeder and then resold, with prices claimed to be as high as $125,000. Savannah cats are a well-known hybrid cat breed that was created by crossing the serval with the domestic cat; they are the largest domesticated cat breed and are known for their ability to leap approximately eight feet high from a standing position.