Christie’s sell diamond for record price at auction
By Amanda Grateley
LONDON, Dec 10, 2008 – Bond Street jeweller Laurence Graff today bought an extraordinarily rare, 17th-century fancy deep greyish-blue diamond for 16.39 million pounds ($24.3 million) at Christie’s, a world record price for any diamond or piece of jewellery sold at auction.
The price achieved in the highly competitive sale, with strong interest from professional jewellers and private collectors, was well above a pre-sale estimate of around 9 million pounds.
The 35.56-carat, VS2 clarity Wittelsbach diamond came to the international market for the first time in almost 80 years, a Christie’s spokesperson said.
Large blue diamonds of high clarity are extraordinarily rare. The Wittelsbach diamond’s provenance enhanced its value.
“People did wake up to the fact that this diamond was extremely rare,” said Keith Penton, head of Christie’s jewellery department in London.
The diamond, which came from an Indian diamond mine, was part of the dowry of the Infanta Margarita Teresa (1651-1673) upon her engagement to Leopold I of Austria (1640-1705).
After the princess’s death her husband kept the dowry and the diamond was passed on to his heirs.
In 1722 the diamond entered the Wittelsbach family, on the occasion of the marriage of Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria (1701-1756) to the Bavarian Crown Prince, Charles Albert (1697-1745), and became a prized family possession.
It was sold from a private collection, where it has been since 1964.
The previous record price for a diamond sold at auction was $16.5 million, for a 100-carat diamond sold in Geneva in 1995.
“It is a great honour and a lifetime dream to handle a museum quality stone such as the Wittelsbach,” said Francois Curiel, Chairman of Christie’s Europe and International Head of Jewellery.