The Wittelsbach diamond, a 17th century cushion-shaped fancy deep grayish blue VS2 diamond weighing 35.56 carats, has sold for US $24,311,190 at Christie’s in London – a world record price for a diamond sold at auction.
On the international market for the first time in 77 years, the diamond was purchased by international jeweller Laurence Graff.
According to Christie’s spokeswoman Hannah Schmidt, the Wittelsbach is one of very few diamonds which can claim “17th century heritage, incredible rarity and exceptional beauty”.
She said the diamond, which originated from India, was purchased by King Philip IV of Spain in 1664 and included in the dowry for his teenage daughter, the Infanta Margarita Teresa. After her early death, the diamond remained with her husband, Leopold I of Austria, and then passed through a succession of his heirs.
In 1722 the diamond entered the Wittelsbach family, on the occasion of the marriage of Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria to the Bavarian Crown Prince, Charles Albert where it was worn by successive rulers in the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Bavarian Royal Crown until King Ludwig III’s abdication in 1918.
In 1931 Christie’s auctioned numerous items from the Bavarian Crown Jewels but the Wittelsbach failed to sell.
The diamond then “disappeared” until 1962 when a jeweller recognised its significance and refused a request to cut it.
Two years later the diamond was auctioned by Christies where it purchased by a private collector, in whose family it remained until last month’s auction.
François Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Europe and auctioneer for the 2008 sale, said the diamond’s price t had topped the previous auction record of $16.5 million for a 100 carat diamond in 1995 in Geneva.
“In the midst of these challenging times, we were thrilled to achieve an historic price for an historic diamond,” he said.