A 9.75-carat blue diamond from the estate of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon sold for an extraordinary $32.6 million — or $3.3 million per carat — at Sotheby’s New York on Thursday, shattering two auction records.
The fancy vivid blue pear-shaped gem, which was purchased by a Hong Kong private collector and promptly named “The Zoe Diamond,” now holds the auction records for the highest price ever paid for a blue diamond, and the highest price-per-carat paid for ANY diamond.
Sotheby’s reported that seven suitors competed for the blue diamond in a bidding war that lasted 20 minutes. Ultimately, the selling price more than doubled the pre-sale high estimate of $15 million.
The record for the highest price ever paid for a blue diamond had been held since December 2008 by the 31-carat Wittelsbach Diamond, which was sold for $24.3 million at Christie’s London.
The price-per-carat record for any diamond had been held since November 2013 by an unnamed 14.82-carat fancy vivid orange diamond, which sold for $2.4 million per carat at Christie’s Geneva.
Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby’s Jewelry Department in New York, said that he knew from the moment he first saw the diamond that it would be one of the most important stones he would ever present at auction.
“Mrs. Mellon’s diamond absolutely deserves the place in the record books that it achieved tonight,” he said in a statement.
The stone, which received a VVS2 clarity grade from the Gemological Institute of America, was the most notable item from a much larger collection of jewels and valuables from Mellon’s estate that were auctioned by Sotheby’s.
“Bunny” Mellon was the widow of philanthropist and horse breeder Paul Mellon, as well as the heiress to the Listerine fortune. She passed away in March of 2014 at the age of 103.