‘Car boot’ diamond set to make millions
A diamond thought to have been bought at a car boot sale is up for sale at Tyneside auction house Featonby’s on November 30 – now valued at £1.6m-2.2m.
The North Shields firm catalogues it as a “truly magnificent and outstanding 34.19ct Round Brilliant Cut, Natural Diamond. H colour, VS1 Clarity with a triple excellent cut grade and laser inscription. This stone has been certified by the HRD Diamond Grading Laboratory in Antwerp.”
It came to Featonby’s in June as part of a box of costume jewellery brought in for valuation. The diamond, which is being stored in London’s Hatton Garden, will be offered in a single-lot auction titled The Secret Stone in partnership with jeweller Swan & Co.
Getty Museum buys Old Master
The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has acquired a painting by Venetian artist Jacopo Bassano (c.1510-92).
The Miracle of the Quails, executed in 1554, was previously in a private collection and had rarely been seen by scholars and has never been on public display. It was acquired from New York dealership OMP Fine Art.
The subject of the painting recalls the moment when, as Moses leads his people out of Egypt, birds miraculously fall from the sky to give much needed food to the Israelites.
The painting, which measures 7ft 8in (2.34m) wide, was almost certainly conceived as a pendant to Bassano’s Lazarus and the Rich Man, now at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The two paintings were probably commissioned by the same patron, Domenico Priuli, in 1551.
Pax Romana to become Apollo
The London antiquities dealership and auction house formerly known as Pax Romana is rebranding as Apollo Galleries. The firm, sited opposite the British Museum since its founding by Ivan Bonchev in 2010, has a new investor who has encouraged the change of name.
Cambridge college Benin bronze return
On October 27, Jesus College, Cambridge became the first UK institution to return a Benin bronze to Nigeria.
The sculpture of a cockerel was one of the hundreds of bronzes taken by British troops in 1897 from the once powerful Kingdom of Benin. It had been given to Jesus College in 1905 by the father of a student.
As emblems of colonialism, Benin bronzes continue to make the news. In Paris in the same week, the Musée du Quai Branly held a ceremony to hand over Benin 26 artefacts removed in 1892 while Germany has agreed to start returning Benin works of art held in its museums next year.
Earlier this year, University of Aberdeen has said it would return a Benin head of an Oba (king) it purchased at an auction in 1957.
Dinosaur skeleton makes big impact
The largest triceratops skeleton ever discovered has been sold in France at the Drouot auction centre by Binoche et Giquello.
The fossilised remains of ‘Big John’ had an estimate of €1.2m-1.5m at the October 21 sale. Including premium, the buyer will pay €6.4m.
The skeleton was named Big John after the owner of the land in the US where more than 200 of the dinosaur’s bones were found. Palaeontologists unearthed the first piece of bone in 2014 and eventually found 60% of the skeleton during 2015, including a 75% complete skull measuring 8ft 5in (2.6m) long and 6ft 6in (2m) wide.
The bones, still enveloped in rock, were taken to Trieste in Italy last year to be cleaned and put together.
Big John roamed the lands of modern-day South Dakota more than 66 million years ago. The area, referred to as Laramidia, was an island continent stretching from present-day Alaska to Mexico.
The dinosaur died in an ancient flood plain – the current Hell Creek geological formation – allowing the conservation of the skeleton in mud.
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