Friday 23 August 2019

Billionaire renames record €45m diamond after his daughter (7)

A Sotheby's employee displays the rare Blue Moon Diamond
A Sotheby's employee displays the rare Blue Moon Diamond

Neil O'Connor in Beijing

A flamboyant Hong Kong billionaire spent a record €45m on a flawless Blue Moon diamond and renamed it Josephine to honour his seven-year-old daughter.

Joseph Lau, a property tycoon, bought the 12.03-carat diamond, mounted on a ring, at a Sotheby's auction in Geneva on Wednesday night, his office confirmed.

Mr Lau (64) was also confirmed as the buyer of a 16.08-carat vivid pink diamond auctioned by Christie's for €27m the night before, which also set a world record and which he promptly renamed "Sweet Josephine".

The diamonds are the latest additions to a huge collection of art, jewellery and fine wines that Mr Lau - Hong Kong's sixth richest man - has built up.

Among his art collection is a seven-foot-high Chairman Mao portrait by Andy Warhol which cost him €16m at a Christie's auction in New York in 2006. He also bought Paul Gauguin's Te Poipoi (The Morning) for €36m a year later.

Mr Lau owns one of the world's best collections of fine wines which numbers 10,000 bottles, and a fleet of jets. The mother of his daughter Josephine is Chan Hoi-wan, his former assistant, according to reports. He also has two children with Yvonne Lui, his long-time partner.

He was given a five-year jail term last year when he was found guilty with a business partner of corruption and money laundering over a land deal in Macau.

But Mr Lau, who stood down as chairman of Chinese Estates Holdings after the case, will not have to serve the sentence unless he enters the former Portuguese colony.

The Blue Moon diamond set a world record for the sale of a gemstone at auction, while Tuesday's acquisition set a world record for any pink diamond ever offered at auction.

David Bennett, the head of Sotheby's international jewellery division, said the Blue Moon was the most expensive diamond and the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction. The previous record was held by the Graff Pink of 24.78 carats, sold by Sotheby's for pounds €42m in 2010.

"I have never seen a more beautiful stone," said Mr Bennett. "The shape, the colour, the purity - it's a magical stone."

The auction house said that South Africa's Cullinan mine was the "only reliable source in the world for blue diamonds", and only a tiny percentage of those found in it contain even a trace of blue. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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