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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Off and on I read things that totally blow my mind – this is one of them. On July 19, 2018 in the New York Post I read an article penned by Jane Ridley and Suzy Weiss that totally amazed me. In fact, I read it three times just to make sure I was really “getting it.”
Ralph Lauren is in the midst of celebrating his 50th anniversary. With any career that longevity is to be applauded, and in the fashion industry that can be quite fickle, that is especially quite an accomplishment. Although he is most likely known for his apparel offerings, whether it's for his namesake label, his Lauren by Ralph Lauren label or his Polo Ralph Lauren label, it is still safe to say his reach goes beyond "just" apparel.
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