Lalique pocket watch sets $958,000 auction record

Sotheby's February 16 auction in Paris saw a new world record set by Lalique's Papillon et Chauves-Souris pocket watch.

Rene Lalique Pocket Watch auction reocrd
The bat-themed case opens to reveal a magnificent display of butterflies

The spectacular watch is now the most valuable item of Lalique jewellery ever sold at auction, after making a 263% increase on its $263,800 high estimate to realise $958,000. The world record for any Lalique item at auction was also set at Sotheby's Paris, after a pair of moulded glass doors made $2.6m in 2011.

The sale came amid an outstanding auction for Sotheby's, in which it also beat the world record for an art noveau collection - that of the Garden Museum in Japan.  

The pocket watch, created circa 1899-1900 and decorated with bats and butterflies, was last sold at auction through Christie's in 2002 for $207,500. The price achieved in the present sale represents a 16.5% pa increase in value, and pays testament to the enduring appeal of Lalique's finest works.

The top lot of the sale was also provided by Rene Lalique, with his bronze sculpture Femme Ailee selling 468.6% above its $401,500 estimate to realise an outstanding $2.2m. The sculpture was one of 11 bronzes from the balustrade of the Lalique stand at the 1900 Exposition Universelle.

With mainly Japanese and Russian bidders vying for top art noveau works, Sotheby's Cecile Verdier commented: "The fantastic results obtained this evening pay tribute to a fascinating artistic movement which many feel has been unjustly neglected. This sale counted as a market test: the challenge was met brilliantly!"

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