Mughal Magnificence: Christie’s Auction Nets $109M

AuctionsJun 20, 2019

Mughal Magnificence: Christie’s Auction Nets $109M

The much-talked-about sale ranks as the second highest-grossing private jewelry collection auction in history, topped only by Elizabeth Taylor.

The D color, internally flawless 17.21-carat “Arcot II” diamond was one of two stones presented to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, by Muhammad Ali Wallajah, Nawab of Arcot. It sold for $3.4 million at Christie’s Wednesday.

New York—Christie’s sale of historic Indian jewelry and art was expected to be big, and it did not disappoint.

The auction netted a whopping $109.3 million in New York Wednesday, setting a few records along the way.

“Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence” featured nearly 400 lots spanning 500 years, showcasing the culture of Indian jeweled arts from the Mughal Empire (founded in 1526) and the age of the Maharajas to present day.

It didn’t become the highest-grossing sale ever for the auction house, as some thought it could—that title still belongs to the evening auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry in 2011, which totaled $115.9 million—but it does rank as the second-highest auction total for a private jewelry collection, according to Christie’s.

It also is the highest total for any auction of Indian art and Mughal objects, Christie’s said.

Held in New York Wednesday, the auction took 12 hours and was 93 percent sold by volume and 92 percent sold by value, with bidders from 45 countries participating.

Three world auction records were set for Indian works for art, and 29 lots sold for more than $1 million.

The jewelry auction’s top lot was the Belle Époque Devant-de-corsage seen below, created by Cartier circa 1912, which sold for $10.6 million to a private collector present in the room.

Additional top lots included the Shah Jahan dagger, which sold for $3.4 million, setting a record price for an Indian jade object and record for a piece with Shah Jahan provenance; and an antique imperial spinel, pearl and emerald necklace, which garnered $3 million.

There were also a number of exceptional Golconda diamonds sold.

The Mirror of Paradise, a 52.58-carat D-color internally flawless diamond, achieved $6.5 million (pictured below); and The Arcot II diamond, a 17.21-carat D IF, garnered $3.4 million.

Meanwhile, the Golconda diamond rivière necklace pictured below, from the collection of the Nizams of Hyderabad, sold for $2.4 million, going for well above its pre-sale high estimate of $1.5 million.

And a spinel, natural pearl, diamond and emerald bead “Imperial Moghul” necklace and earrings from Cartier realized $1.9 million.

All contemporary pieces by JAR and Bhagat included in the jewelry auction sold.

They included the five-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace from the latter pictured below that went for $1.7 million, topping its highest pre-sale estimate, $1.2 million.

An enameled and gem-set model of a parrot from Hyderabad, circa 1775-1825 (seen below), which was said
to have garnered a lot of attention in the pre-sale exhibitions, also went for more than double its pre-sale estimate when it garnered $1 million, and an elephant brooch by JAR sold for $555,000, more than five times its low estimate.

The lots in the Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence jewelry auction all came from the Al Thani Collection, a private holding of more than 6,000 works of art spanning from ancient times to the present day established by a member of the ruling family of Qatar.

Beginning next year, works of art from the collection will be exhibited at a new museum in Paris.

Auction proceeds will support new acquisitions as well as ongoing initiatives of The Al Thani Collection Foundation, including exhibitions, publications, lectures and sponsorships of projects at museums around the world.
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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