"Pink Star" diamond sells for world record $83 million at auction

by Stephanie Nebehay /  / Updated 
epa03948242 (FILE) A file picture dated 24 October 2013 shows a model wearing the Pink Star diamond at Sotheby's auction house in London, Britain. The...
The Pink Star, a 59.60 carat vivid pink diamond, fetched a world record $83.02 million at auction in Geneva on Wednesday.ANDY RAIN / Today

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The "Pink Star," a huge flawless pink diamond, sold for a world record $83 million at auction in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday, the auction house Sotheby's said.

"Ladies and gentlemen, 68 million (Swiss francs) is the world record bid for a diamond ever bid and it's right here," Sotheby's David Bennett said to applause as he brought down the hammer in the salesroom.

The final bid for the oval-shaped diamond, mounted on a ring and weighing 59.60 carats, was for 68 million Swiss francs or $73.99 million.

Sotheby's said the final sale price, including the "buyer's premium," or commission fees, was 76.3 million Swiss francs, or $83.02 million. It was bought by a man bidding in the room, who told reporters that he was buying it on behalf of an anonymous person whom he represented, and would not give his own name.

The auctioneer, Bennett, noting that its pre-sale estimate was $61 million, told reporters: "It surpassed our estimate. It's a large amount of money in itself but I don't think this stone has a price."

Wednesday's sale price exceeded the previous record by the "Graff Pink," a 24.78 carat fancy intense pink diamond bought by Laurence Graff, the London-based jeweller known as "The King of Diamonds", at a 2010 auction for 45.44 million Swiss francs ($45.75 million then). 

"Frankly when I sold the Graff 3 years ago, I thought it would be a record for a very long time. Tonight's price is really quite extraordinary three years later," Bennett said.

The "Pink Star" was cut and polished from a 132.5 carat rough diamond mined by De Beers somewhere in Africa in 1999, according to Sotheby's, which said it had no information on the exact geographic origin. 

The stone, mounted on a ring, was first sold in 2007 and the current owner remains anonymous. 

Bennett said in September that the vivid pink diamond is "of immense importance" because of its extraordinary size and exceptionally rich color that surpass all others known to exist in government, royal or private collections.

It is "simply off any scale, and passes, I believe, into the ranks of the earth's greatest natural treasures."

Eric Valdieu, a former Christie's jewel expert now of Valdieu Fine Arts, recalls seeing the "Pink Star" displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 2003. 

"The buyers of a stone like this are very few, international fortunes in Latin America, Asia or the Middle East," he said. 

Signature pieces by top-end European jewelers including Cartier, Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels fetched strong prices at Wednesday's auction, especially from the Art Deco period of the 1930s.

Few lots were stranded on the block and many that sold soared many times over their pre-sale estimate.

Sotheby's sale of magnificent jewels also realized the highest jewelry sale total for a single auction in history - $199.5 million, according to the auction house.

A rare pink diamond sold for a record $83 million at auction on Nov. 13, but it's hardly the only gem that's sold for millions. Take a look at other big pieces of bling, from a diamond worn by Marie de Medici to a brilliant orange stone bought for $36 million.

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