October 12, 2016
Moving on, this is more about the Lesedi la Rona diamond and why it failed to sell at Sotheby’s – see last week’s blog [Why Sotheby’s Auction Failed, Part 1] that was posted on October 5th.
In November 2015, just days before the discovery of the Lesedi diamond, Joseph Lau, a Hong Kong real estate tycoon, paid $48.5 million at Sotheby’s in Geneva for a 12.03-carat diamond. The night before Lau had paid $28.5 million at Christie’s for a 16-carat pink – or $77 million in two days for two diamonds.
FINDING A SUPER DIAMOND This is a complicated process so we’ll break it down in bullet points:
SELLING THE SUPER DIAMOND
Here are the competing narratives:
The diamantaires [experts in the cutting of diamonds into gems] say the value of the rough is its polished, final outcome and only they can say what it should be.
William Lamb, CEO of Lucara, the company that owns the Lesedi says an uncut diamond has an allure all its own. It’s unique, like a great painting, and should be thought of as a Picasso – and sold at auction. (I happen to agree with this scenario.)
One New York expert, Donald Palmieri, flew to Botswana to view the Lesedi and called it a “life-altering experience.” One of his associates, Halina Kaban, said, “I hope they never cut it.” (I almost fell off my chair when I read this – it was exactly what I thought when I saw the Lesedi.)
Lesedi la Rona: The rough 1,109 carats diamond
Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby’s
THE VENOMOUS BACKLASH BEGINS
The author, Matthew Hart, reports: “Even before I had seen the diamond, I had heard dealers put it down. It was no secret that the diamond trade was trash-talking the Lesedi. The street was awash in poisonous gossip. I had always thought that the diamond itself would silence such talk. But no – at the auction these people had William Lamb at their mercy.”
The high-end diamond game is played on a very small field by a very few players. So it matters when people such as billionaire Laurence Graff say, “It’s just not how it’s done. We don’t want to expose ourselves in public [at an auction]. We find it undesirable.” NOTE: Graff is 78 years old. Perhaps times are changing. Less than a month later, Lamb had an offer for the Lesedi La Rona that was well above the failed auction price.
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October 22, 2020
I just read an article that sounded – to me at least – like “a canary in a coal mine” or an early warning of danger. This piece, written by Joe Pompeo, appeared in the May 2020 issue of Vanity Fair magazine with the title “The British Tabloid Invasion” and a subtitle that read, “How the Daily Mail is conquering American gossip.”
The paparazzi horde, La Dolce Vita, 1960 – photo courtesy of Vanity Fair
October 14, 2020
Apparently the good old U.S. is a nation of “not great” sleepers. Really? And I thought I was the only one! According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it was revealed that one out of three Americans are chronically sleep-deprived. Yikes!
October 06, 2020
I think we’re all taken by the incredible mystique of the famous French fashion house, Hermès that has been with us for two centuries and is still owned and operated by the same family. From its beginnings in fine equestrian leather goods, they are – in the tumultuous year 2020 – best known for their handbags and many other items.
My image of Hermès has always been rarified products at equally rarified prices so imagine my surprise when I recently received a very stylish publication of theirs in the mail.