Christie’s to auction Mughal collection, ‘the best quality of Indian jewellery ever seen.’
The collection of Mughal jewellery will be offered on June 19 at Christie’s, as part of the landmark auction “Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence.”
A collection of nearly 400 jewels, objects and gemstones from the royal family is expected to fetch more than $115.9 million when it goes on sale.
The selection is assembled by Qatar royal family member Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani.
This estimated value would make it the most valuable jewellery auction in history, overtaking that of private jewellery collection of late actress Elizabeth Taylor. It was sold for $115.9 million at Christie’s in December 2011.
Christie’s doesn’t have an estimated total for the sale, dubbed Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence, but according to Rahul Kadakia, the auction house’s international head of jewellery, “the depth, breadth, and quality of the collection is unprecedented.”
The collection also includes ornaments, ceremonial objects and decorative art used by Indian royals and elites during the age of the Maharajas over 500 years.
Highlights of the Mughal collection
Among the most prized highlights of the collection is a jade-hilted dagger once owned by Shah Jahan, creator of the Taj Mahal. It is estimated to fetch up to $2.5 million at the auction.
The other one is an ibex-headed carved jade cup, dating from between 1660 and 1680. The decorative piece is so realistically carved that the Chinese Emperor Qianlong composed a poem in its honour. It has a high estimate of $300,000.
The collection also features an important selection of creations from the 20th century by Bulgari, Cartier, Janesich, Lacloche, Linzeler, Mauboussin, and Mellerio.
This period saw a creative fusion between India and the West, fuelled by a succession of maharajas entrusting their jewels to the continent’s most renowned jewellers to be redesigned.
Among them is the Patiala Ruby Choker, which was commissioned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and created by Cartier in 1931. The necklace, featuring rubies, diamonds and pearls, carries a high estimate of $1.2 million.
“Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence” Auction
Although Christie’s didn’t announce an estimated total for the auction, “Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence” is expected to bring in tens of millions of dollars.
“This collection comprises 400 lots of the global Al Thani Collection, which in its entirety has 6,000 lots. For the world of collectors, this assortment of Indian jewels, Islamic objects, art deco-inspired jewels supplied by Indian royals in the 1920s and 1930s and jewellery designed by European houses like Cartier is as major an event as will ever be.”
“What distinguishes this auction from many of the other Indians sales that we have put together is the scale, the quality of the works on offer and the range. We have almost 400 lots up for sale, and they range from $10,000 to $10 million. Everything is the best of its kind. The best rubies. The best diamonds,” said Christie’s International Head of Jewellery, Rahul Kadakia.
Proceeds from the sale will support new acquisitions, and the ongoing initiatives of The Al Thani Collection Foundation, including exhibitions, publications, and programs at museums around the world.
The Al Thani Collection still holds about 5,600 items, part of which will be shown at a new museum space in Paris starting next year.