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    PARCHMENT COPY OF AMERICAN DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE DISCOVERED IN SUSSEX

    Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

    The parchment copy of the American Declaration of Independence, which had been folded.

    One of only two parchment copies of America’s Declaration of Independence has been discovered by researchers from Harvard in a record office in West Sussex.  They unearthed the manuscript – believed to date from the 1780’s – while compiling a database of every copy of the declaration kept in Britain. The only other known parchment manuscript copy is kept at the National Archives in Washington DC.

    Staff at the West Sussex Record Office in Chichester had not taken a particular interest in the copy before the team from Harvard got in touch.  It was made ten years after the declaration. They are now working on a valuation. It is believed that the copy came to the record office  in 1956.  It was given by a local man who apparently worked for a law firm representing the Dukes of Richmond.

    Field Marshal Charles Lennox (1735-1806), 3rd Duke of Richmond, was known as the “radical duke” for his support for the American colonists’ rebellion.  He also supported a policy of concession in Ireland and held advanced views on parliamentary reform. It is thought that  he may have originally brought the manuscript to Britain. The record office is now working with the university as well as historians at the British Library and the American Library of Congress to carry out further tests on the manuscript.

    A 92 CARAT HEART SHAPED DIAMOND AT CHRISTIE’S GENEVA

    Thursday, April 13th, 2017

    La Légende a 92 carat D color Flawless heart-shaped diamond

    La Légende a 92 carat heart-shaped diamond pendant signed by Boehmer et Bassenge will lead Christie’s sale of Magnificent Jewels on May 17 in Geneva. The Maison de Haute Joaillerie was launched last year and named in honour of Charles Boehmer and Paul Bassenge, Parisian jewellers of the 18th century. Working exclusively with a handful of large, D colour, flawless clarity diamonds of perfect polish and symmetry, combined with years of experience and preparation, the Maison Boehmer et Bassenge operates with an uncompromising attitude to quality. Just a few creations are produced each year.

    La Légende is the largest D Flawless heart shaped diamond ever offered at auction. It is suspended from a cultured pearl sautoir.  The necklace is estimated at US $14-18 million. Exceptional diamonds and gemstones will lead this spring season, along with important private properties such as the Cartier and Art Déco collection assembled by Éric Nussbaum, one of Cartier’s most eminent experts. A particular focus has been set on Italian jewellery design from the 1900s to the present day in the dedicated Dolce Vita section.

    THE MOST VALUABLE EARRINGS EVER SEEN AT AUCTION

    Monday, April 10th, 2017

    The most valuable earrings at auction, ever.

    THE most valuable earrings ever to appear at auction comes up at Sotheby’s in Geneva on May 16.  The Apollo and Artemis diamonds, one Fancy Vivid Blue, one Fancy Intense Pink, are to be offered separately as individual lots.  The Apollo Blue, internally flawless and 14.54 carats, is estimated at US$38-50 million, the 16 carat VVS 2 clarity Artemis Pink at US$12.5-18 million. The Apollo Blue is the largest internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction.

    David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division, said: “’The Apollo and Artemis Diamonds’ will be the stars of our May sale in Geneva – by far the most important pair of earrings ever offered at auction. These exquisite coloured diamonds are enormously rare and each is a wonderful stone in its own right. Together, as a pair of earrings, they are breathtaking. We have named them after Apollo and Artemis, a twin brother and sister of great power and beauty who were among the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. These are diamonds of great distinction, with extraordinary presence, and we are honoured that Sotheby’s has been chosen to bring them to auction in May.”

    THE MOST VALUABLE GEMSTONE EVER SOLD AT AUCTION

    Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

    THERE was a new world auction record for any diamond or jewel when the Pink Star, a 59.60-carat oval mixed-cut Fancy Vivid Pink Internally Flawless diamond, sold for US$71.2 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong tonight. This is the highest ever price for any object sold at auction in Asia.  The most valuable gemstone ever sold at auction made more than double the previous record for a fancy vivid pink diamond. The Pink Star was acquired by Hong Kong jeweller Chow Tai Fook and renamed The CTF Pink in memory of the late Dr. Cheng Yu-Tung, father of the current chairman and founder of Chow Tai Fook.  It also commemorates the 88th anniversary of the brand. The winning telephone bid was placed by Dr. Henry Cheng Kar-Shun, chairman of the company.

    “It is fitting that the owner of the most prestigious jeweller in Greater China should today break the record for the most valuable item ever sold in Asia as well as the most valuable diamond ever sold at auction – now appropriately named the CTF Pink – said Sotheby’s President and CEO Tad Smith, adding, “And Sotheby’s has been honoured and thrilled to serve this very discerning client for many years.”
    David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division, added: “I am delighted that this magnificently beautiful diamond has been rightfully crowned the most valuable gemstone ever sold at auction. The price has more than doubled the record for a fancy vivid pink diamond that we set just last year in Geneva.”

    (See post on antiquesandartireland.com for March 20, 2017)

    BONO’S GRETSCH IRISH FALCON ELECTRIC GUITAR AT BONHAMS

    Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

    THE GRETSCH “IRISH FALCON” ELECTRIC GUITAR SIGNED BY U2

    A Gretsch “Irish Falcon” electric guitar signed by U2 from Bono’s personal collection comes up at Bonham’s in New York on March 27.

    At Bono’s request, Gretsch built only ten “Irish Falcon” guitars to be used in U2’s Elevation Tour  in 2001. This is one of the earliest such prototypes. The Irish Falcon has become Bono’s signature instrument for performing.

    In 2003, MusiCares charity recognized Bono as their Person of the Year and held a tribute in his honor in New York. This guitar, signed by all four members of U2, was auctioned to benefit MusiCares that night.

    The electric guitar, with laminated maple hollow single cutaway body and evergreen finish, comes with gold sparkle binding, maple neck and fretboard with mother-of-pearl humpback inlays.
    It is signed “Bono 2007,” “Edge,” “Adam Clayton,” “Larry Mullen, Jr.” in silver permanent marker and estimated at US$180,000-220,000.

    THE LARGEST FLAWLESS PINK DIAMOND EVER GRADED AT SOTHEBY’S

    Monday, March 20th, 2017

    The Pink Star.  UPDATE: IT MADE US$71.2 MILLION.

    The Pink Star will lead Sotheby’s sales of magnificent jewels and jadeite in Hong Kong on April 4.   At 59.60 carats this oval mixed-cut pink diamond is the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has ever graded. It is estimated at more than US$60 million.

    The Pink Star has received the highest colour and clarity grades from the GIA for pink diamonds and has been found to be part of the rare subgroup comprising less than 2% of all gem diamonds – known as Type IIa: stones in this group are chemically the purest of all diamond crystals and often have extraordinary optical transparency. Mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, the 132.5-carat rough diamond was meticulously cut and polished over a period of two years and transformed into this stunning gemstone.

    David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division, said: “At a time of unprecedented demand for the finest in coloured diamonds, I am delighted to be bringing this magnificent stone back to the market.  The extraordinary size of this 59.60-carat diamond, paired with its richness of colour, surpasses any known pink diamond recorded in history.”

    QUEK Chin Yeow, Deputy Chairman, Asia, and Chairman International Jewellery, Asia, said: “Over the years Sotheby’s Hong Kong has played host to many outstanding stones and sales; including the 118.28-carat oval D-colour flawless diamond sold in Oct 2013, the still-current world auction record for any white diamond, as well as the fancy vivid blue 10.10-carat De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 which set a record for any jewel sold at auction in Asia in April 2016. The market for the world’s finest diamonds and gem stones remains buoyant.”

    At 59.60 carats, The Pink Star is more than twice the size of the Graff Pink’ – the 24.78-carat Fancy Intense Pink diamond which currently holds the world auction record for any pink diamond. Sold at Sotheby’s Geneva in 2010 for US$46.2 million the Graff Pink marked an auction record for any diamond or gemstone at the time.

    UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR US$71.2 MILLION, THE HIGHEST PRICE FOR ANY WORK EVER SOLD AT AUCTION IN ASIA.  IT WAS BOUGHT BY HONG KONG JEWELLER CHOW TAI FOOK AND RENAMED THE CTF PINK.

    A NOBEL PRIZE FOR SALE AT CHRISTIE’S

    Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

    The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Alfonso Garcia Robles in 1982 for his pioneering work in nuclear disarmament comes up at Christie’s in New York on April 28.  It will be included in The Exceptional Sale and is estimated at $400,000-600,oo0. Garcia Robles was the driving force behind the Treaty of Tlatelolco, opened for signing 50 years ago on February 14, 1967, and significant for keeping Latin America and the Caribbean nuclear-free to this day. The Nobel Peace Prize medal is 18 carat gold and 2.5 inches diameter.

    “We are thrilled and honored to be offering this tangible symbol of mankind’s struggle for peace,” remarks Becky MacGuire, specialist of The Exceptional Sale. “In 1962 Alfonso Garcia Robles watched the Cuban missile crisis unfold a mere 1,500 miles off Mexico, and he resolved to put an end to the horrific nuclear threat for his beloved country and the entire region. His unwavering dedication to the cause of disarmament resulted in the ground-breaking Treaty that did end that threat. The Nobel Peace Prize honoring Garcia Robles reminds us of the very best in humanity, just as great, transformative works of art do.”

    LUGGALA ON THE MARKET

    Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

    Luggala

    Luggala, one of Ireland’s most famous homes used to film scenes in Braveheart and Excalibur, is on the market for 28 million. It is being sold by the honourable Garech Browne, the great, great, great grandson of Arthur Guinness. The Gothic  house beside Lough Tay  in Co. Wicklow was built in 1787 by the banking La Touche family and modelled on Strawberry Hill in London.  It was bought by Ernest Guinness in 1937 who gave it to his daughter Oonagh as a wedding present. It is on 5,000 acres.  There are seven bedrooms plus lodges around the estate with another 20 bedrooms.

    Home to Garech Browne (77) the founder of Claddagh Records, for the past 47 years it was overhauled in 1996 with a six million euro makeover.  He is selling up as his wife lives in Singapore.  Over 2 million worth of art and furniture from Luggala and other Guinness estates was auctioned in 2006.

    Another Irish stately home, Westport House, has just changed hands.  (See post on antiquesandartireland.com for January 27, 2017)

    NEW OWNERS FOR WESTPORT HOUSE

    Friday, January 27th, 2017

    Westport House

    One of the best known stately homes in Ireland, Westport House, has been sold to the Hughes family, which operates the Hotel Westport in Co. Mayo.  They say they are committed to ensuring the property is given the attention and care it deserves. They plan to spent 50 million on refurbishment and upgrading works. Mayo County Council has acquired 40 acres of the estate. The purchase price was not disclosed. Westport House had been on the market with NAMA with a price tag of 10 million.

    The original house was built in the 1650s by Colonel John Browne on the foundation of Grace O’Malley’s Castle. He married O’Malley’s great great granddaughter, Maude Burke. The current house which dates largely to the 18th century was designed by Richard Cassells who also designed Leinster House and Carton. It was completed by the renowned English architect James Wyatt, who also planned the layout of Westport town. It has been the ancestral home of the Browne family for generations and was the first stately home in Ireland to open to the public in 1960.  Since then it has welcomed more than four million visitors.

    In an attempt to save the house for the family the late 11th Marquess of Sligo, Jeremy Brown, sold a life-size masterpiece in terracotta by Aimé-Jules Dalou for £362,500 at Sotheby’s in London in 2014.  Boulonnaise allaitant son enfant (A Young Mother from Boulogne feeding her Child) was acquired directly from the artist in 1876 by George John Browne, 3rd Marquess of Sligo. It went to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottowa. Jeremy Browne had said: ‘We hope that the proceeds raised through its sale will secure the future of one of Ireland’s best-loved attractions for generations to come.”

    (See posts on antiquesandartireland.com for May 2, May 21 and December 19, 2014)

    KILMAINHAM GAOL AUTOGRAPH BOOKS GO ON LINE

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

    A collection of autograph books owned by prisoners at the time of the Easter Rising is now available online.   The Kilmainham Gaol autograph collection contains over 12,000 names.  The  Office of Public Work says the website offers a fascinating insight into the lives of prisoners during the 1916-18 period. According to Niall Bergin of Kilmainham Gaol Museum the autograph books are the most requested items to view in the museum’s archive.

    The collection, which covers a variety of different prisons and places of incarceration, features poems, portraits, political statements and signatures. The museums collection contains 12,000 names of those who were incarcerated from 1916 to 1923. The website will be expanded in future to include additional autograph books.