Liszt letters fetch record prices at Geneva auction

A collection of 14 letters written by 19th century Hungarian composer Franz Liszt raked in record prices in Geneva, with some topping 50 times their estimate.

Liszt letters fetch record prices at Geneva auction
Photo: Hôtel des Ventes (detail)

The letters, put on public display for the first time ever at Geneva's Hôtel des Ventes auction house, shed light on the composer's ties with his German counterpart Richard Wagner and French-Polish composer Frederic Chopin, to whom he dedicated three musical scores.
Also up for sale was an eight-page, handwritten booklet of piano exercises composed by Liszt for his pupil Valerie Boissier in 1832.

The booklet alone, which had been estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000 francs ($3,150-$5,250), went under the hammer on Wednesday night for 16,000 francs, according to the auction house.

One Liszt score dedicated to Chopin, which had been estimated at between 700 and 900 francs, was finally sold for a whopping 43,000 francs.

The lots were part of a broader sale of musicology items, including manuscripts, scores and photographs related to Bela Bartok, Paul Dukas, Nikita Magaloff, Igor Stravinsky, Joseph Szigeti, and Wagner.

They came from two private collections, one belonging to the family of Szigeti and Magaloff, who was his son-in-law, and the other to Genevan musicologist Robert Bory.

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Rare pink diamond to go under hammer in Geneva

An extremely rare pink diamond will be auctioned in Geneva on November 11 by Sotheby's, which says it is worth between $23 and $38 million.

Rare pink diamond to go under hammer in Geneva
A model poses with the “The Spirit of the Rose” diamond during a press preview on Friday. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Named “The Spirit of the Rose” after a famous Russian ballet, the 14.83-carat diamond mined in Russia is the biggest ever to go under the hammer in its category — “fancy vivid purple-pink”.
The occurrence of pink diamonds in nature is extremely rare in any size,” Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby's jewellery division, said in a statement. “Only one per cent of all pink diamonds are larger than 10-carats.”
Speaking to AFP, Benoit Repellin, head of fine jewellery auctions at Sotheby's Geneva, said the oval-shaped diamond was “completely pure.”
The rough diamond was unearthed by Russia's Alrosa — one of the world's leading diamond producers — in the Republic of Sakha in the northeast of the country in July 2017.
Repellin said it took a painstaking year for cutting masters to turn the diamond into its polished form.
Sotheby's said the world auction record for a diamond and any gemstone or jewel was the “CTF Pink Star”, a 59.60-carat oval pink diamond that sold for $71.2 million in Hong Kong in 2017.
According to Repellin, five out of the 10 most valuable diamonds ever sold at auction were pink.
The sale of this gem coincides with the closure of the world's largest pink diamond mine in Australia after it exhausted its reserves of the precious stones.
The Argyle mine, in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, churned out more than 90 percent of the world's pink diamonds.