May 9 (Bloomberg) -- Auction houses are luring wealthy buyers with $17 million to spend on a pink diamond, and $9 million for a collection of Aston Martins such as those favored by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Bonhams is selling factory-made replicas of cars used in James Bond movies as well as convertibles like the Prince of Wales’s that William and Kate used on their wedding day. The auction at Aston Martin’s factory at Newport Pagnell, U.K., on May 21 includes two DB6 convertibles similar to the Prince’s. Each is estimated to fetch as much as 250,000 pounds ($411,000).
“At least two billionaires have been buying Aston Martins aggressively over the last three or four years,” said Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI), a London-based research company. “The royal wedding confirmed the car as a British institution, though it’s difficult to quantify what effect that will have.”
The auction also includes a clone of the DBS that George Lazenby drove in the 1969 film, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” valued at as much as 70,000 pounds. A version of Timothy Dalton’s V8 Volante convertible from “The Living Daylights” (1987) carries a high estimate of 100,000 pounds. Both cars were made by Aston Martin in 2008.
The auction, containing 46 Astons, is estimated to raise as much as 5.3 million pounds.
Bonhams will be holding its 25th annual “Grandes Marques” auction in Monaco on May 20. Sixty-three cars are estimated to raise as much as 9.9 million euros ($14.4 million). The most highly valued lot, at 1.45 million euros, is a Ferrari 512 BB/LM Berlinetta that the North American Racing Team drove in the 1982 Le Mans 24-hour race, finishing ninth.
A pink diamond the size of a SIM card is the top lot of an auction in Switzerland, estimated at as much as 14.8 million francs ($17 million).
The emerald-cut “fancy intense pink” stone, weighing 10.99 carats and mounted on a platinum ring, will be one of 491 items being offered by Sotheby’s in its biannual jewels sale in Geneva on May 17 with a total estimate of 42 million francs.
Collectors continue to pay one-off prices for rare diamonds, particularly if colored. London dealer Laurence Graff paid 45.4 million francs, a record for any gem at auction, for a 24.78-carat “fancy intense pink” at Sotheby’s Geneva in November.
“That wasn’t a diamond price. It was a collectors’ item,” said Sam Taub, director of the Antwerp wholesalers CLS Diamonds. “It’s difficult to predict what big stones will make. Each bidder has a different personal reason for wanting to buy.”
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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