A pair of Dutch library globes by the man regarded as father of western globe making, Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638), now rank the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction in Holland.
They proved the highlight of the collection of the Princely
House of Liechtenstein offered at Christie's Amsterdam on April
With a 200,000-300,000 euro estimate, the 2ft 2in (68cm) globes
attracted bids from seven phones - one of which raised the bidding
in a single increment from €90,000 to €400,000. Other telephones
were active to 500,000 euros, when it came down to the no-nonsense
telephone bidder and the European private collector in the room,
who secured them at 680,000 euros (£567,000), plus buyer's
Blaeu studied with the renowned Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe in
1595, (whose portrait appears on the celestial globe) before
settling in Amsterdam as a globe, instrument and mapmaker in
Appointed mapmaker to the Dutch East India Company in 1633, his
firm was responsible for kick-starting globe making as a viable
The size of this pair is known as 'the royal format', and the
largest Blaeu ever produced. After their introduction in 1616 they
remained the largest globes on the market for 70 years.
Blaeu died in 1638 but his two sons, Cornelius and Johannes,
continued the business.
Johannes printed these globes, which were republished three
times during the 17th century.
The celestial example dates to c.1630 and the terrestrial
example to c.1645-48, each supported in a later stained and moulded
wood plinth base. They show California as an island and are
illustrated with sea monsters, ships, the Great Wall of China and
the signs of the Zodiac.