Pink Diamond Bought by Graff for Record $46 Million in Geneva

'Graff Pink' Diamond
A 24.78-carat pink diamond that sold at Sotheby's Nov. 16 auction of jewels in Geneva. Not seen on the open market for 60 years, it was estimated to sell for between 27 million Swiss francs and 38 million francs. It fetched 45.4 million francs and is named the "Graff Pink." Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

Laurence Graff, a London jewelry dealer, last night bought a diamond in a Swiss sale for 45.4 million francs ($45.6 million), a record for any gem at auction.

Graff’s telephone bid for the pink stone beat an estimate of 27 million francs to 38 million francs at Sotheby’s, Geneva.

“It is the most fabulous diamond I’ve seen in my career,” Graff said in a statement issued by Sotheby’s. He named the gem “the Graff Pink,” the auction house said.

The jewelry auction raised a record 103 million francs, Sotheby’s said. Demand for rare gems as a portable form of wealth has pushed up prices.

The 24.78-carat emerald-cut stone was graded “Fancy Intense Pink” by the Gemological Institute of America. It was sold by a private collector and hadn’t been seen on the open market since being bought from Harry Winston about 60 years ago, the New York-based auction house said.

“What makes it so immensely rare is the combination of its exceptional color and purity with the classic emerald-cut,” David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s European and the Middle Eastern jewelry departments, said in a statement. “It’s a style of cutting normally associated with white diamonds and one that is so highly sought-after when found in rare colors such as pink and blue.”

Graff previously paid 16.4 million pounds ($24.3 million) for the 35.56-carat grayish-blue “Wittelsbach Diamond” at Christie’s International in London in December 2008, then the highest for a gem at auction.

Geneva Wine Record

Earlier in the day at a Christie’s wine sale, also in Geneva, a 6-liter imperial of Chateau Cheval Blanc’s 1947 vintage sold for 298,500 francs. The price, paid by an unidentified collector, was an auction record for a large-format bottle of wine. An imperial bottle is the size of eight standard bottles.

Described by Christie’s wine specialist, Michael Ganne, as “probably the only known existing ‘imperial’” of the red Bordeaux, it had been estimated to fetch between 150,000 francs and 250,000 francs. Cheval Blanc’s famously port-like 1947 vintage is regarded by some connoisseurs as the greatest wine of the 20th century.

The auction record for a standard-sized 75-centiliter bottle of wine was set at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on Oct. 29 when three bottles of Chateau Lafite’s 1869 vintage each sold for HK$1.8 million ($230,000). All three were bought by the same Asian telephone bidder, said Sotheby’s.

(Scott Reyburn writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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