"The splendor of the Great Mughals and Maharajas" can rightfully be called the auction of the century. The auction at Rockefeller Center is expected to be the most expensive in the history of the auction business. The current record for total revenue ($ 144 million) was set in December 2011 as a result of the sale of items from the personal collection of Elizabeth Taylor.
Almost 400 items from the legendary collection of Qatari sheikhs Al-Thani (there are more than 6 thousand exhibits) cover five centuries of Indian culture history - from the Mughal era (1526-1857) to the present day. The catalog of the upcoming Christie's auctions is in no way inferior to the catalog of the exhibition in one of the world's art museums (in fact, almost all lots have been repeatedly exhibited in London, Paris, Venice). It contains diamonds mined in the mines of Golconda (including the purest 52-carat Mirror of Paradise, tentatively estimated at $ 7-10 million), incredible carved emeralds weighing 10-200 carats, numerous engravings and blades with handles studded with precious stones, ornaments of powerful Mughals and objects created by French jewelry houses for Indian rulers of the 20th century,as well as works by contemporary designers such as JAR and Viren Bagat.
1 of 10 Lot No. 175, a dagger decorated with precious stones with a jadeite handle and scabbard © press service Lot No. 139, enamel bowl and stand with diamonds © press service Lot No. 71, enamel hookah, decorated with precious stones © press service Lot No. 144, titanium brooch with diamond, cacholong and sapphire, JAR © press service Lot # 203, pommel from the throne of Tipu Sultan © press service Lot # 196, hookah flask decorated with precious stones © press service Lot # 206, wand decorated precious stones © press service Lot # 263, ceremonial sword of Nizam Hyderabad © press service Lot # 278, pearl rosette "Vadodara" © press service
It must be said that caskets, daggers, hookahs, cups, inkpots and other decorative and applied items in the quantity and quality of colored stones differ little from actual jewelry items, which testifies to the highest level of everyday culture of the Indian aristocracy of that era.
Almost every lot has outstanding provenance. The dagger with a jadeite handle comes from the collection of Shah Jahan - the very one who built the Taj Mahal, the pear-shaped diamond Arcot II (17.21 carats) once adorned the earrings of the British Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, the famous peacock with enamel and diamonds from the French jeweler Mellerio was bought by Maharaja Kapurtala Jagatjit Singh.
Lot # 98, "Arcot II" © press service
Lot No. 131, an ergette made of diamonds and enamel © press service
The true masterpieces of the collection are the ceremonial necklace with 200 carats of Golconda diamonds belonging to the Nizam of Hyderabad (estimated at $ 1.5-2.5 million) and the Cartier ruby choker, created in 1931 by order of the Maharaja Patiala Bhupinder Singh (estimated at $ 800,000 - $ 1, 2 million). The collection includes many items made by Cartier jewelers - from a tiny Art Deco watch pendant ($ 200-300 thousand) and a necklace made of natural pearls to a magnificent 1912 belle époque diamond corsage brooch (estimated at $ 10-15 million) … And most likely, the French jewelry house will compete for some important lots.
Lot # 264, necklace "Nizam of Hyderabad" © press service
Lot # 272, ruby necklace "Patalia" © press service
The head of the European division of Christie's Francois Curiel (worked at the auction house for exactly 50 years) considers the collection of Sheikh Al-Thani to be the most significant jewelry collection in the entire history of trading. “This is a living history that we hold in our hands,” says Raul Cadakia, head of Christie's international jewelry division.
Why is the Al-Thani clan selling, albeit partially, their untold wealth? The Al Thani Collection Foundation website reports that in 2020 the Foundation plans to open a new museum in the Hotel de la Marine building on Place de la Concorde in Paris. The proceeds from the auction will be used to organize a new exhibition space and to purchase new masterpieces to replace those that have been exhibited in public more than once and gained wide popularity. Well, these recognizable and almost textbook precious objects will find new owners, scatter among private collections, and access to them will be closed.>