A Hong Kong billionaire tycoon paid a total of $77 million at auctions in Geneva for two large and rare colored diamonds for his 7-year-old daughter Josephine — and renamed them after her, his office said yesterday.
Joseph Lau was the top bidder for the 12.03-carat “Blue Moon” diamond that sold Wednesday night for a record-setting 48.6 million Swiss francs ($48.5 million), said a spokeswoman for Lau, who declined to give her name. Sotheby’s said the buyer promptly renamed the pricier gem “The Blue Moon of Josephine,”
Lau was also the buyer of a 16.08-carat vivid pink diamond that sold for 28.7 million Swiss francs ($28.5 million) auctioned by Christie’s the night before, she said. The buyer renamed that diamond “Sweet Josephine,” Christie’s said.
The blue diamond, set in a ring, was said to be among the largest known fancy vivid blue diamonds and was the showpiece gem at the Sotheby’s jewelry auction.
The Blue Moon — named in reference to its rarity, playing off the expression “once in a blue moon” — topped the previous record of $46.2 million set five years ago by the Graff Pink, Sotheby’s said. The diamond also set a new record of more than $4 million per carat, capping the daylong high-end jewelry sale that reaped roughly $140 million.
Lau, a property developer with a fortune estimated by Forbes at $9.9 billion, has a habit of snapping up expensive gems for his children.
At a Sotheby’s Geneva auction in 2009, he bought another blue diamond, paying a then-record $9.5 million for the 7.03-carat “Star of Josephine.”
Last November, he also bought two gems for another daughter, 13-year-old Zoe, his spokeswoman said. One was a 9.75-carat blue diamond that he named “Zoe Diamond” after buying it for about $33 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York. He also spent 65 million Hong Kong dollars ($8.4 million) for a 10.1-carat ruby and diamond brooch at a Christie’s Hong Kong auction. He named that one “Zoe Red.”
Lau was convicted last year by a Macau court of bribery and money laundering and sentenced to more than five years in prison. But Lau, who didn’t attend the trial, has remained free by avoiding travel to the former Portuguese colony, which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with nearby Hong Kong. Both cities are specially administered Chinese regions.
Blue diamonds are formed when boron is mixed with carbon when the gem is created.