Even as a diamond expert, the record price fetched at Christie’s auction in Geneva is exceptionally exciting, but being a Hungarian person, the Hungarian background of the diamond’s first owner makes the news of the record-breaking diamond auction even more interesting for me.
As one of the most prominent dynasties of Europe, the story of the Habsburg family reaches as far back as the 10th century. During the course of history, the family gave the world German kings, Holy Roman emperors, Spanish rulers, as well as Czech and Austro-Hungarian kings.
One of the prominent representatives of the Habsburgs was Archduke Joseph August of Austria, a Hungarian royal prince, who was a general in World War I. At the time he was the owner of the exceptionally beautiful, cushion-shaped, D colour, internally flawless diamond which fetched USD 21.5million (including the Christie’s commission) at auction on 13 November 2012.
The story of the diamond akin to many other famous diamonds was rather troubled. It originates from the Golconda mines in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which were the origin sites of several other well-known diamonds.
Archduke Joseph August was the regent of Hungary for a short period of time in 1919, but the Allied forces soon made him step down. In 1933 he deposited the diamond, which was then 78.54 Carats at the Hungarian General Credit Bank, and then sold it to a European banker three years later. The stone survived World War II in a safety deposit box, in France.
Up until 1961, the whereabouts of the diamond were shrouded by mystery, and then it surfaced in London at an auction. Decades later it reappeared once again in Geneva at another auction. The stone was re-cut in the 1990s, and its new weight became 76.02 Carats.
The new owner of the enthralling stone is unknown as yet, but apparently the last bidder who dropped out of the auction process was Fred Mouawad. According to the former owner, the head of Black, Starr & Frost’s Alfredo J. Molina (Chairman of The Molina Group) the stone will make its comeback as the centre-piece of an exhibition.
Get a sneak peek of the 2:53 minutes of auction excitement via the video here.