This is the story of one of those diamonds so exquisite it was given a cute little name: the Princie.
Yet despite its diminutive moniker, the Princie is a big stone — 34.65 carats — that sparkles in the cheerful color of a flamingo and is valued at $40 million. It was last known to be packed away in a storage facility in Switzerland, where it was sent by a member of the Qatari royal family after he bought it.
But is that where it should be?
That question is the subject of a trial about to begin this week in New York Supreme Court where an Italian family has accused Christie’s, the auction house, of selling the diamond despite accusations that it had been stolen.
The descendants of a once powerful Italian senator say the diamond is rightfully theirs, and that their stepbrother absconded with it after his mother died. But the stepbrother has insisted the diamond was his to sell. Christie’s says the family members have no proof the diamond belongs to them and that, regardless, its client, who bought it from the stepbrother, had every right to sell the stone.
It is a case sprinkled with royalty and rich people, the nuances of Italian law and with questions about the responsibilities of auction houses when there is a dispute about who owns a sale item.
The diamond, cut from the Golconda mines in India, made its first recorded appearance in the 1700s as part of the collection of the Nizam of Hyderabad, an Indian monarch. The plaintiffs say the diamond, about the size of a Cerignola olive, was bought by Senator Renato Angiolillo at Van Cleef & Arpels in 1960, the same year he married his second wife, Maria Girani Angiolillo. It had been named “Princie” in honor of the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, a former state of India, who came to a party that year at the Van Cleef & Arpels store in Paris, along with his mother.
Read more about the “Princie” pink diamond saga on the New York Times website HERE