RAPAPORT... The world’s 18th largest mined diamond, the Letseng Legacy, went to Graff for $10.4 million, mining company Gem Diamonds said Wednesday (November 14, 2007.)
Graff and manufacturing partner SAFDICO beat out 10 other diamantaires bidding for the 493-carat stone. The purchase follows their previous Letseng scoop when they bought the 603-carat Lesotho Promise for $12.36 million in October 2006.
“We are very pleased to have once again made the winning bid for such an historic diamond,” said Johnny Kneller, chief executive officer of SAFDICO. “To have acquired the Letseng Legacy as well as the Lesotho Promise is a great achievement for SAFDICO and Mr. Graff.”
Gem Diamonds recovered the “Letseng Legacy” in September 2007 at its Letseng le Terai Mine, which has produced three of the world’s 20 largest diamonds. Gem owns 70 percent of the mine in partnership with the Lesotho government.
“The sale of the Letseng Legacy at this impressive price is a reflection of the rarity of the remarkable diamonds that the Letseng Mine is producing," said Clifford Elphick, CEO of Gem Diamonds. “The market for extraordinary diamonds continues to grow which bodes well for Letseng´s success as production doubles during the course of 2008.”
Lesotho’s minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation, Ralechate Lincon Mokose, announced the winning bid at a ceremony on Wednesday at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
Also in attendance were Gem Diamonds management and directors, the Lesotho Ambassadors to Belgium and Germany, MaMoruti Tiheli and Makase Nyaphisi, SAFDICO’s Johnny Kneller of the winning bidder SAFDICO and leading figures from the Antwerp diamond community.
The night before this auction, Laurence Graff snapped-up several items from Christie's New York. The famed London jeweler bought several classic images by Andy Warhol and Basquiat. Graff bought ''Elvis 2 Times,'' a 1963 Warhol image, for $15.7 million and a 1982 painting titled ''Sugar Ray Robinson,'' by Basquiat for $7.3 million (both prices include premium.)