Some of the most valuable and significant diamonds of all times have been sold at auction, generally through prestigious auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Bonhams. While the sale process is not simple, other than the tension as the auction occurs, it does not usually involve much drama.
However, the Princie Diamond, a 34.65 carat, fancy intense pink cushion-cut pink diamond with an amazing VS2 clarity grade sold for a spectacular $40 million, a couple of years ago through Christie’s, is now causing a great deal of havoc. The reason for this sudden upheaval is Amedeo Angiolillo, the stepson of Maria Girani, an Italian aristocrat, who claims that the diamond is the one that was supposed to have been returned to his family after his stepmother’s death, but went missing. After hearing about this sale, Angiolillo was convinced it was the very same diamond that is rightfully his.
In 2013, this extremely rare pink diamond sold at a Christie’s New York auction house to an anonymous bidder for a staggering $40 million. This stone achieved a new price record, surpassing the previous record of $24.3 million set in December 2008 with the sale of the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond. Rewind to Italy, 1961. The late Italian senator, Renato Angiolillo, who had a passion for collecting quality jewels, bought a 300-year-old 34.65-carat Indian diamond from Van Cleef & Arpels. Renato allowed his wife, Maria Girani, to wear the diamond, which was named after Indian Prince Osman Ali Khan, hence the name “Princie Diamond.” However, according to Angiolillo’s son, and Girani’s stepson, Amedeo Angiolillo, she did not have complete access to his jewels and was only given permission to continue wearing the gem after the senator’s death when they came to an agreement to have the diamond returned upon her death. After her passing in 2009, the diamond disappeared. Her son, Marco Oreste Bianchi Milella, maintained that he had never seen the pink diamond or any other jewel for that matter among his mother’s belongings. In 2013, Amedeo learned that Christie’s was auctioning off a pink diamond that he was fairly certain had belonged to his father. This became the beginning of a tireless lawsuit against Christie’s and the individual who purchased the item from the auction house for a record-breaking sum.
Although Marco Oreste Bianchi Milella, who was once the roommate and friend of stepbrother Amedeo Angiolillo, declared in 2012 that he had never seen the Princie Diamond among his mother’s possessions or any other jewel, Amedeo learned in 2013 from Christie’s that he had stated that he was the 100% beneficial owner of the Princie Diamond. This led to a search of Milella’s property, where additional jewels belonging to Renato were found, including a ruby necklace that he gifted to his girlfriend. Amedeo is demanding that Christie’s return the diamond and pay damages. Christie’s did not stop the sale although there was a pending criminal investigation going on. They have not commented on the case.
This whirlwind of a story is almost as interesting as the diamond itself. It is quite disturbing that such an incident occurred and managed to pass through the very well respected fingers of Christie’s. Hopefully justice will prevail and the diamond will be returned to its rightful owner.