Masterpiece fair is treasure trove for collectors

Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:27am EDT
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By David Brough

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Buyers shopping for multi-million pound treasures such as an 18th century French library, a Renoir painting and a pink diamond tiara gathered at the inaugural Masterpiece collectibles fair this week.

Super-wealthy businessmen and celebrities, including former British Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, milled around stands at the former Chelsea Barracks Thursday evening, examining antique silverware, diamond jewelry, Impressionist oil paintings -- and an 18th century Dijon library.

Highlights included a Belle Epoque Boucheron diamond necklace at dealer Wartski, a 2.2 million pound ($3.29 million) Pierre Auguste Renoir oil painting depicting the artist's son, a set of Vacheron Constantin watches inspired by the ancient art of Maki-e, and the paneled library dating from 1775.

"A collector of antiquarian books or an institution -- like a museum -- could be interested in this bibliotheque from the Hotel Gaulin, Dijon," New York-based Carlton Hobbs told Reuters at his stand where the entire library was on display.

The library, for sale for more than $2 million, had belonged to celebrated collector J. Pierpont Morgan Jr. in the 1920s and subsequently to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Luxury Bond Street jeweler Asprey presented a new pink diamond tiara for 1.4 million pounds, which could appeal to royalty, or perhaps a Chinese buyer. The pink diamonds came from the Argyle mine in Australia.

The Masterpiece fair runs from June 24-29.

(Reporting by David Brough; editing by Paul Casciato)