New York-based auction house Guernsey’s has sold four gold casts of Nelson Mandela’s hands for $10,445,000 (R166 million) to an international buyer.
In 2002, former South African president Mandela collaborated with Harmony Gold to have his hands captured in 99.99% pure gold to raise funds and awareness for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
Engraved with Mandela’s signature, the Gold Hands weigh between 77 oz. and 149 oz. each (2.7kgs and 4.6kgs) with the four hands weighing in excess of twenty-seven pounds (12.4 kgs.).
The collection includes two fists – one inscribed “1964″, the year he was first imprisoned, and the other “1990”, the year of his release.
The other two sculptures, an open hand and a full hand impression set in a solid gold block, also commemorate his final year in prison.
“Remarkably detailed, one can feel Mr. Mandela’s fingerprints and the very scar the beloved Madiba sustained while imprisoned on Robben Island,” Guernsey’s said.
“Handsomely encased in rare South African wood, each hand is a treasure. As a collection, it is nothing short of remarkable.”
Harmony Gold, a prominent South African gold company listed on the NYSE, worked closely with Mandela to create the works.
A team from Harmony visited Mandela at his Houghton home in 2002 to embark on the challenge of creating a high precision cast of Mandela’s right hand.
Using the most advanced technology available at the time, they initially developed a prototype (which was later melted down) to test different methods of production.
“Settling on a vacuum process, the resulting castings carry with them the most intense details of an almost impossible nature. Every fingerprint on the castings is more distinguishable than if one were to look at their own,” said Guernsey’s.
“We’re thrilled that a single buyer was able to bring all four of the gold casts together again,” said Arlan Ettinger, owner and co-founder of Guernsey’s.
“This collection is as beautiful as it is significant, and it was an honour to be part of such a historic moment.”