The 35-carat “Beau Sancy,” a diamond coveted by kings, queens and princes for more than 400 years, was sold on Tuesday night to an anonymous bidder for $9.57 million after an animated eight-minute battle among five interested parties at Sotheby’s in Geneva. The aggressive bidding drove the price to more than double the pre-auction estimate of $4 million.
Called “one of the most important historic diamonds ever to come to auction,” the Beau Sancy has a lineage that links the royal families of France, England, the Dutch Republic and Prussia. The diamond chronicles the history of their fluctuating fortunes for more than four centuries, as it was used to reinforce alliances between nations and pawned to pay off royal debts.
Originally acquired during the 1500s by Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy, the diamond was subsequently purchased by French King Henri IV and gifted to his second wife, Marie de Medici. Legend states that as soon as Marie set eyes on the Beau Sancy diamond she had to have it, and nagged her wayward husband until he bought it for her.
The modified “pear double rose cut” diamond failed to bring good fortune to either of them. Famously, she had the Beau Sancy set in her crown for her coronation as the Queen Consort on May 13, 1610. Just a day later Henri was assassinated, leaving her with six children under the age of nine.
After she was exiled in disgrace in 1631, she sold the diamond to settle her debts.
And this was just the first leg in the Beau Sancy’s 400-year journey through European royal history as it passed through the hands of warring and peacemaking monarchs.
“The legendary Beau Sancy is a truly magical stone that has entranced generations of royal owners and continues to exert a powerful influence over all who see it,” said David Bennett, Sotheby’s chairman of jewelry in Europe and the Middle East, in a statement.
“Its supreme historical importance was reflected tonight in the strength of the bidding and the remarkable result realized,” he said.
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