Centerpiece of Tuesday's auction was her 9-carat pink diamond ring, $15.8 million

By Kate Hogan
Updated April 18, 2012 03:30 PM


The 17 dazzling jewels that reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark kept locked away in a bank’s safety deposit box for the past 70 years had their coming-out party Tuesday — winning applause and generating $21 million at auction, at least $10 million more than pre-sale estimates.

All eyes were on one piece in particular: a rare, 9-carat, Belle Epoque cushion-cut pink diamond ring (below), whose pre-sale estimate had been between $6 million and $8 million.

When the bidding started at Christie’s New York, auctioneer Rahul Kadakia called out “Four million dollars,” reports MSNBC. After a first bid, the price jumped to $7.5 million, as Kadakia said, “All right, why waste time?”

Final price: $14 million, plus commission, for a total outlay of $15,762,500.

The lucky fellow taking home “the pinky ring,” as the
New York Post
called it, was self-proclaimed “diamondier” (of Stettner Investment Diamonds) Brett Stettner, 38, who told the newspaper he planned to name the diamond after himself.

“It’s an honor to have a stone with such a provenance. I’m out for perfection,” said Stettner, adding, “The diamond will speak to me. Right now it says, ‘I’m gorgeous, make me better.'”

Huguette Clark Estate

Courtesy Christie’s

Other major pieces included a 19.86-carat rectangular-cut Cartier diamond ring (above) that went for $3.1 million; a Cartier art-deco diamond bracelet, for $578,500; and a ruby, sapphire, emerald and gold Tiffany bracelet, for $266,500, reports

Born in 1906, Clark withdrew from public view before she was 30 and died last May after living in a New York City hospital for decades. She was 104.

Her Fifth Avenue apartment, listed for $24 million, was sold for an undisclosed price last month. Still available are two other apartments, at $19 million and $12 million, and her country home in New Canaan, Conn., at $19.8 million.

Her oceanfront home in Santa Barbara, Calif., said to be worth $100 million, is to be converted into a public museum for her art collection, according to one of her wills, which is currently the subject of a legal battle, reports MSNBC.

–Stephen M. Silverman