Thursday, July 11, 2013
Christies has just sold the Maharajah of Patiala's gold plated dinner service for a record 2 million GBP!
The 1500 piece dinner service, totaling 500kgs of gold plated sterling silver, was created especially for the visit of the Prince of Wales on the 24th February 1922, and was only used the once.
Maharaja Sir Bhupinder Singh was known for his lavish lifestyle. Helped by the fact that Patiala was one of the richer Indian provinces.
He is most famed for his necklace, which he had created for him by Cartier, and is one of the largest pieces they ever worked on. It contained over 3000 diamonds, including the famous 234 carat de Beer's diamond (the 7th largest in the world).
Later in 1947, when the province fell into decline, the necklace was stripped of its 2400 diamonds. Amazingly enough, in the late 90s the empty platinum necklace turned up in an antique shop in London and was bought by Cartier and reset with diamonds, and then placed on display.
Similarly in 1928 he commissioned Boucheron to create him jewelry pieces from 6 trunks of pearls and emeralds that he had brought with him to Paris. During the depression he was almost solely responsible for keeping some of Europe's greatest jewelers in business.
He was also the first man in India to own an aircraft, the Patiala aviation club being formed essentially for him, and is rumoured to have traveled in motorcades of 20 Rolls Royces (quite something for the time).
It is believed that the private buyer of the dinner service was Russian.