The Archduke Joseph Diamond is the star lot of a Christie’s International sale at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva, on Nov. 13. The guitarist’s 1987 perpetual calendar chronograph with moon phases is up for sale the day before valued at 4 million Swiss francs ($4.27 million).
“The best diamonds have become extraordinarily valuable,” Geoffrey Munn, managing director of the London-based jeweler Wartski, said in an interview. “There’s a sense at the moment that money is like sand running through fingers and there’s a scramble to buy jewels as a hedge.”
The diamond was originally sourced from the Golconda mines in India, which produced the 105.6-carat Koh-i-Noor of the U.K. Crown Jewels.
Internally flawless and weighing 76.02 carats, this colorless stone is the largest perfect Golconda diamond to have appeared at auction, Christie’s said in an e-mailed statement. It has a low estimate of $15 million.
The upper valuation of $328,861 per carat is a record for a colorless diamond.
The diamond is named after Archduke Joseph August of Austria (1872-1962), a member of the royal House of Habsburg, whose family owned the stone until the 1930s.
It was last seen at auction in November 1993, when it sold for 9.7 million Swiss francs. The identity of current owner hasn’t been divulged by Christie’s.
Though Golconda’s colorless stones are famed for their purity, colored diamonds have so far set the highest auction prices.
“They are rarer and more popular,” Munn said.
A 24.78-carat fancy intense pink diamond was bought by the London jeweler Laurence Graff for a record 45.4 million Swiss francs at a Sotheby’s sale in Geneva in November 2010.
In the Nov. 12 Christie’s sale, Patek Philippe dominates the roster of high-value lots including Clapton’s watch and another platinum chronometer with a similar valuation.
From a different owner, it was made in 1952 for J.B. Champion, one of the Swiss watchmaker’s best-known clients.
Clapton is also selling a Gerhard Richter painting. The 1994 oil-on-canvas “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)” estimated at as much as 12 million pounds ($19.4 million) in Sotheby’s contemporary art auction in London on Oct. 12.
The champagne house Krug will offer the largest consignment of wines directly from its cellars at an auction in December.
Sotheby’s (BID) Dec. 1 sale in New York will include 530 bottles in various formats from the Reims-based champagne maker. Spanning 40 years, the wines are estimated to raise a total amount of $350,000 to $500,000.
The offering will include a 12-bottle case of 1990 Krug Clos de Mesnil, priced at more than $20,000, and a single bottle of the house’s 1961 “Collection” champagne, marked at $2,000 to $3,000.
Contemporary artworks owned by the French collector Marcel Brient sold in Paris for 5.1 million euros ($6.6 million).
Sotheby’s was auctioning 78 pieces by French artists from the Paris-based collector’s holdings on Sept. 24. The sale, estimated to raise 2.5 million euros to 3 million euros, found buyers for 94 percent of the lots.
Brient has amassed one of France’s most comprehensive and eclectic private collections of contemporary art. He was among the first to buy pieces by Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Chinese “Political Pop” artists.
His attempts to open a private museum in a former factory at Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, have been thwarted by technical difficulties and legal disputes.
The night’s top price was the record 720,750 euros paid for the 1969 blue-and-white painting “Study” by Simon Hantai, a member of the avant-garde “Support/Surface” movement. Made by folding and unfolding pigment-saturated canvas, it sold to a telephone bidder, beating a high estimate of 350,000 euros.
A further 432,750 euros was given for an untitled 1987 Joan Mitchell diptych, valued at 120,000 euros to 180,000 euros. The 1960 sculpture “Tree” by Martial Raysse, made out of plastic bottles, sold for 216,750 euros, just beating the low estimate.
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