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Oppenheimer blue diamond sells for record 57.5 million US dollars



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A dazzling blue diamond once owned by mining magnate Philip Oppenheimer etched a record 50.6 million US dollars (45 million euros) at auction in Geneva Wednesday, auction house Christie's said.

The 14.62-carat "Oppenheimer Blue" is the largest stone in the exceptionally rare Fancy Vivid Blue category ever to go under the hammer, according to Christie's. The anonymous buyer will have to part with a total of 57.54 million US dollars, all fees and commissions included, a Christie's spokesman said.

Before the auction experts ad said it was in with a chance of beating the record of 48.4 million US dollars set by Sotheby's in November with Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau's purchase of the 12.03-carat "Blue Moon of Josephine".

It did so after more than 20 minutes of bidding to become the most expensive polished diamond ever sold at auction, easily topping its pre-auction valuation of 38-45 million US dollars. "This is the cut diamond and the jewel of all the record," a Christie's spokesman said after the auction attended by hundreds of people in a Geneva palace.

"As a general rule, these stones are quite small," Christie's diamond expert Jean-Marc Lunel told AFP, noting that a Fancy Vivid Blue weighing just five carats typically generates considerable buzz in the diamond market.

Last week Canadian mining company Lucara Diamond on announced the sale of a huge 813-carat uncut diamond for a record 63 million US dollars (55 million euros). The name of the buyer for the gem, which was discovered in Botswana, was not divulged, nor the conditions of the sale overseen by Nemesis International.

That record sale figure for a rough diamond is unlikely to last very long. Lucara is preparing to auction an even larger 1,109-carat diamond at Sotheby's in London on June 29.

Photo: AFP