A “once-in-a-lifetime” collection of royal Indian jewellery fetched over $109 million in the United States, with a 17-carat Golconda diamond, a ceremonial sword of the Nizams of Hyderabad and a bejewelled huqqa setting world records, according to global auction house Christie’s.
The items included a 17-carat Golconda diamond “Arcot II”, once owned by the Nawab of Arcot, that sold for $3.37 million (Rs 23.5 crore).
The sale also included an antique 33-diamond necklace once owned by the Nizams of Hyderabad, which sold for nearly $2.41 million (Rs 17 crore), Christie’s announced on Twitter.
These items, among 400 objects from the Al-Thani Collection of the Qatari royal family, went under the hammer at the “Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence” auction here on Wednesday.
The set established “the highest total for any auction of Indian art and Mughal objects, and the second highest auction total for a private jewellery collection”, Christie’s said a statement.
“Once-in-a-lifetime collection, and a specially designed New York exhibition, the ‘Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence’ auction in New York achieved $109,271,875, establishing the highest total for any auction of Indian art and jewelled objects, and the second highest auction total for a private jewellery collection,” the global auction house said in a statement.
Christie’s had earlier said that this collection was poised to be the most valuable auction of jewellery and jewelled objects. The total auction value of $109.2 million, however, fell short of the current auction record held by “The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor” auction, which totalled $144 million in December 2011.
Nonetheless, it featured among the “most storied private collections ever featured at auction”, as per Christie’s. The auction had bidders from 45 countries, including India.
The auction started with the “Indore Sapphire Taveez Bead Pendant Necklace, Mounted By Cartier” that owes its provenance to Indore’s Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II. The royal necklace achieved $206,250 (Rs1.44 crore), surpassing an estimate of $60,000 (Rs 42 lakh), Christie’s said.
Another major sale was of an enamelled and jewelled ‘huqqah’ set from 1680-1720, “almost certainly made in the imperial Mughal workshop” as per Christie’s, which went under the hammer for $759,000 (Rs 5.3 crore) as compared to its higher limit estimate of $350,000 (Rs 2.4 crore).
Another carved emerald brooch, and interchangeable ‘Jigha’ mounting depicting Lord Rama, Sita and Hanuman has sold for $735,000 (Rs 5.12 crore).
A five-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace and a diamond brooch created by Mumbai-based jewellery house Bhagat sold for high prices as well — $1.69 million (Rs 11.8 crore) and $212,500 (Rs 1.5 crore) respectively.
Experts said that this sale was widely expected to set records as it was one of the most comprehensive collections of Indian royal jewellery.
“The Al-Thani Collection is known to be one of the most important and comprehensive collections of Mughal jewellery and objects as well as important pieces of jewellery made over the last 200 years by leading Western jewellery houses for erstwhile Indian royalty, and of course, contemporary Indian jewellery designers. The prices achieved demonstrate the increasing attention collectors pay to provenance, history and rarity as some of these pieces are impossible to find,” said Mallika Sagar, auctioneer for Pundole’s, the Mumbai based auction house.