Records shattered left and right at Sotheby’s this week as the auction house celebrated its 40th Anniversary in Asia.
Last night’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale earned $96 million, the highest total ever for a jewelry sale in Asia, and included a record price for a white diamond.
A D-color Flawless type IIa diamond, which Sotheby’s called “the greatest white diamond ever to be offered at auction”, sold for $30.8 million. At 118.28 carats, the oval brilliant-cut stone was the largest of its kind ever graded by the GIA, and was estimated to sell between $25 million and $35 million.
The previous record price was set in May when the 101.73 carat pear-shaped “Winston Legacy” sold for $26.7 million.
Although both buyer and seller remain anonymous, Sotheby’s has confirmed that the diamond sold today has passed Kimberly Process scrutiny. The oval stone was reportedly cut from a 299 ct. rough found in southern Africa in 2011.
Other results from the sale include a Burmese ruby and diamond ring, which sold for $3.8 million. The ring was specially designed for Sotheby’s event by Asian designer Cindy Chao, and features an 8.03 carat oval “pigeons blood” from the Mogok Valley. A set of two remarkably fine jadeite bead necklaces were also sold for $5.5 million.
Notably, the Premier Blue, an exceptionally rare fancy vivid blue diamond, failed to find a buyer. The 7.59 carat round brilliant-cut stone had a pre-sale estimate of $19 million, and was expected to set a record price for any diamond. Although the stone did receive bids, none reached the set reserve.
The internally flawless type IIb diamond was the largest of its kind ever graded by the GIA. Blue diamonds are some of the rarest in the world (type IIb account for less than one half of one percent of diamonds mined), and are hardly ever cut into round brilliants, as the technique wastes much of the rough material. According to a statement by Chin Yow Quek, Sotheby’s deputy chairman, Asia, and chairman of International Jewellery, Asia, “No round fancy vivid blue diamond of significance has ever appeared at auction.”
The week’s events kicked off with two days of fine wine auctions, followed by Sotheby’s Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale. The anniversary’s premier auction, the sale of Asian contemporary and modern art earned $146 million and set multiple world auction records.
Zeng Fanzhi’s The Last Supper, based on Da Vinci’s masterpiece, set the world record for a work of contemporary Asian art. The crowded room cheered as the hammer fell at $23.3 million – also a world record price for the work of a living Chinese artist. Earlier, a large triptych by Chinese painter Zao Wou-ki sold for $11 million – the most ever paid at auction for the artist, who died in April. Six of Wou-ki’s works sold at the event for a combined $39.4 million.
16 artist records have been set so far this week.
The marathon five-day anniversary event ends today with auctions of important Asian art and ceramics. One lot in particular, the Cunliffe Musk-Mallow Palace Bowl, is expected to highlight today’s events. Sotheby’s auctioneers hope this “sublime” example of Chenghua period (1465 – 87) ceramics will fetch over $10 million.
The Anniversary event is the largest and most expensive sale series Sotheby’s has ever staged in Hong Kong. The auction house expects to sell 3,571 individual lots for a total of $490 million.
Update: The Musk-Mallow bowl sold for $18.2 million – well above its $10 million estimate