Diamond at heart of royal Europe goes for $9.5 million

Wed May 16, 2012 9:09pm EDT
 
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GENEVA (Reuters) - A diamond coveted by kings, queens and princes for centuries, used to reinforce alliances between nations and pawned to pay off royal debts sold for 9 million Swiss francs ($9.57 million) at Sotheby's in Geneva on Tuesday night.

The auction house called the "Beau Sancy" diamond "one of the most important historic diamonds ever to come to auction", reflecting its role in the fluctuating fortunes of Europe's royal families for more than 400 years.

"The legendary Beau Sancy is a truly magical stone that has entranced generations of royal owners and continues to exert a powerful influence over all who see it," said David Bennett, Sotheby's chairman of jewelry in Europe and the Middle East, in a statement.

"Its supreme historical importance was reflected tonight in the strength of the bidding and the remarkable result realized."

No fewer than five bidders competed for the stone, driving the price to nearly five times above its pre-sale low estimate of 1.85 million Swiss francs in an eight minute battle before it was bought by an anonymous bidder, Sotheby's said.

The stone, a 35-carat modified "pear double rose cut" diamond belonging to Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia and head of the former ruling dynasty of the German empire, had been expected to fetch $2 million to $4 million.

"It's a stone that appeals to me greatly as a survivor of all those tumultuous events," Bennett told Reuters in a telephone interview in February.

"Stones from royal collections hardly ever appear at auction. In my career this is an absolute one-off."

Bennett, who sold a pink diamond for $46.2 million in 2010 in what was a record for any jewel at auction, said estimating the value of a stone like the Beau Sancy was difficult given its rarity.   Continued...

 
An employee of Sotheby's auctioneers displays the Beau Sancy diamond during a media preview in Zurich May 2, 2012. The historic 34.98 carat modified pear double rose cut diamond, which has an estimate of $2-4million, was owned by several during the last 400 years and will be offered in a Sotheby's auction of jewels in Geneva on May 15. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann