April was a record month for diamonds.
A world auction record for a Golconda diamond was set when the 34.65-carat Princie fancy intense pink cushion-cut diamond sold at Christie’s for $39.3 million, and at Sotheby’s an auction record for any white diamond sold in the Americas was set when a nearly 75-carat pear-shape diamond sold for $14.1 million.
The purchaser of the Princie diamond, whose origin is traced to the ancient mines of Golconda in India, was described by Christie’s as “anonymous.” The diamond had descended in the royal family of Hyderabad, rulers of one of the wealthiest provinces of the Mughal empire, and was named for the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda by Van Cleef & Arpels after the company purchased the diamond at a London auction in 1960.
The record-breaking pear-shape diamond was purchased by an international dealer after heated competition between five bidders.
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Masterworks by Paul Cezanne and Amedeo Modigliani from the collection of Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt of Sands Point, Long Island, N.Y., lead Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern sale in New York on Tuesday.
Cezanne’s 1889-90 “Les Pommes,” considered among the artist’s greatest achievements, has a $25,000-$35,000 estimate. Modigliani’s “L’Amazone,” described as “one of his most arresting images of women,” has a $20,000-$30,000 estimate. It depicts Baroness Marguerite de Hasse de Villers , a glamorous socialite and lover of the younger brother of Modigliani’s patron, Paul Alexandre, in her riding habit.
The paintings are among 200 works in the Lewyt collection to be sold by Sotheby’s in a series of sales in New York and Paris. Proceeds from the sales, which are expected to bring more than $65 million, will benefit a charitable foundation to be established in the names of Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt, both longtime champions of animal rights.
Alex, a manufacturer and inventor who held patents for scores of inventions, including the Lewyt vacuum cleaner, died in 1988 at 79. Elisabeth, whose years of work saved untold numbers of abandoned dogs and cats from death, died last December in her 90s.
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A rare painting of the wife of the French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) titled “Madame Matisse au kimono” highlights Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art sale Wednesday.
The painting by Andre Derain (1880-1954), described as the most important portrait by the artist ever to appear at auction, has a $15 million-$20 million estimate and represents a pivotal moment of artistic collaboration between Derain and Matisse.
It was painted in August 1905 during the summer that Derain spent with Matisse in Collioure, the small fishing village in southwest France where they embarked on a style of painting that would change the course of modern art.
When their paintings with excessively brilliant colors superseding any tones seen in nature appeared that fall at the Salon d’Automne exhibition, they were described by the art critic Louis Vauxcelles as “les fauves” (“wild beasts”) and the new art movement became known as Fauvism.
Derain’s colorful painting of Amelie Matisse pictures her wrapped in an elegant bright blue and white Japanese kimono against a background of brilliant reds and greens.
Fauve art was short-lived, but Matisse and Derain remain the giants of the movement.
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News of the sale of a record-breaking item often lures look-alike items to the auction block.
Such is the case of the Kashmir “Moon” shawl that will be offered at Skinner’s Fine Oriental Rugs & Carpets Auction Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at its Boston gallery. The shawl was sent to Skinner from a man in India after learning the auction house had sold a “Moon” shawl last year for a record-breaking $50,000.
Both of the hand-woven shawls, named for the large circular moon at the shawl’s center, were made in North India in the 1800s. The shawl being auctioned is in need of restoration so it has a $10,000-$15,000 estimate.
“Pinwheel” Kazak rugs, so named for their pinwheel-shaped design, are seldom seen on the market , but one of these rugs made in Southwest Caucasus in the second half of the 19th century was offered at Skinner’s auction of Oriental rugs last year. and it brought $41,475, more than doubling the low of its $20,000-$25,000 estimate.
Now a second “Pinwheel” Kazak has come on the market. It has areas of repiling and minor weaves, so its estimate is $15,000-$20,000.
Serapi and Ushak carpets are among the Oriental rugs highly sought by collectors. Saturday’s auction includes a collection of seven Serapis, and five Ushaks that have been in a Vermont storage unit since the consignor moved to a smaller home. The Serapis are topped by a 13-foot-10-inch-by -10-foot-8-inch carpet with a $20,000-
$25,000 estimate, and the five Ushaks are topped by a 16-foot-4-by-12-foot-10 carpet with a $4,000-$6,000 estimate.
The expected top seller of the 302-lot auction is a late-19th-century 23-foot-4 -by-13-foot-4 Bidjar carpet from northwest Persia ($25,000-$35,000).
Among the other offerings of note are a last-quarter-19th-century Bahkshaish carpet from northwest Persia ($15,000-$20,000), a first-half-19th-century Beshir prayer rug from west Turkestan ($15,000-$20,000), and a second-half-19th-century Bordjalou Kazak rug from southwest Caucasus ($5,000-$7,000), the first with a gold field that Gary Richards, Skinner’s Oriental carpet and rug specialist, says he has ever seen.
An offering that has attracted much interest is a 19th-century suzani, a decorative tribal textile traditionally made as a bed cover by Central Asian brides as part of their dowry and presented to the bridegroom on their wedding day. This 8-foot-7-by-7-foot-2 colorful bed cover, which has a $2,000-$3,000 estimate, is unusual as it is decorated with roosters. Richards says he has never before seen a suzani decorated with birds or animals.
Virginia Bohlin can be reached at globe