Maestro hair and Picasso art make auction history

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

The historical fiction drama “Amadeus” won eight Academy Awards and centered on the rivalry between Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Although they did have some disagreements in real life, the two composers usually saw one other as friends and supported each other’s work.

After combing through Sotheby’s auction list, buyers began pulling their hair out in a bidding war to own a piece of musical hair-story, as strands of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven went on sale!

Back in the day, the word “salon” meant a social gathering of intellectual and cultural geniuses. Now, I’m picturing Beethoven and Mozart having sophisticated conversations while hairdressers snip away at their lovely locks! The legendary 18th century musicians were said to have met in Vienna, back in 1787, and Beethoven was greatly influenced by the older Mozart.

Before Beethoven overcame deafness to become one of the greatest German pianists of all time, child prodigy Mozart was a whiz on the violin and keyboard at the age of 5. Born Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart on January 27, 1756, in what is now Salzburg, Austria, the boy genius went on to compose over 600 symphonic works like the iconic Requiem.

As for Beethoven, he was born in Bonn on December 17, 1770, where he performed his first public concert at the age of 7. From 1801 to 1820, he gradually went deaf, yet some of his greatest accomplishments came from this later period, like his Ninth Symphony and Moonlight Sonata. Now, Beethoven’s hair (bundled with a printed invitation to his funeral) was purchased for $12,500 at a Sotheby’s auction, while Mozart’s strands commanded a staggering $53,820 performance.

Picasso cubism
Pablo Picasso (left) used his cubist art style to paint a self-portrait (right). See the resemblance? Me neither. Let me try looking through a kaleidoscope.

From hair-raising auctions to priceless art, Pablo Picasso ‘s “Les femmes d’Alger” fetched a record $179 million recently, becoming the most expensive art ever sold at auction.

The Spanish artist was one of the most influential painters of the 20th century, co-founding the Cubist movement. Cubism bends reality into twisted shapes that’d give your Geometry teacher a headache!

Despite the impressive price fetched by Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger” (meaning “Women of Algiers” in French), it isn’t the most expensive art sold anywhere. It’s just the priciest sold at auction. The highest honor belongs to Paul Gauguin’s “Nafea Faa Ipoipo?” (which translates as “When Will You Marry?” in Tahitian). It sold for a whopping $300 million last February in a private sale. In second place is “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne, which was sold for $274 million, followed by the third place Mark Rothko painting “No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red)”, which earned 186 million. The Picasso painting is 4th for all-time priciest painting, and in 5th place is Jackson Pollock’s $165.4 million “No. 5, 1948”.

Featured image of Mozart’s hair (left) courtesy of Sotheby’s. Image of “Amadeus” movie poster courtesy of Orion Pictures.