Hong Kong tycoon buys daughter $48 mn diamond

A Hong Kong billionaire spent a record $48.4 million buying an 12.03-carat diamond dubbed “Blue Moon” for his daughter in an auction in Geneva, his spokeswoman confirmed to AFP Thursday.

Property tycoon Joseph Lau, who last year was found guilty of bribery in neighbouring Macau, bought the rock at a Sotheby’s auction on Wednesday and immediately renamed it “The Blue Moon of Josephine” after his seven-year-old daughter.

The sale comes the day after he spent $28.5 million buying a rare 16.08-carat pink diamond — the largest of its kind to ever go under the hammer — from rival auction house Christie’s, which he rebaptised “Sweet Josephine”.

A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Lau confirmed the two purchases to AFP.

“The first was the pink one ‘Sweet Josephine’ and the second one was the ‘Blue Moon of Josephine’,” she said.

David Bennett, head of Sotheby’s international jewellery division, said the “Blue Moon” sale broke several records, making the gemstone “the most expensive diamond, regardless of colour, and the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction”.

The jewel, set in a ring, was sold for 48.6 million Swiss francs ($48.4 million, 40 million euros), including fees, with a starting bid of 43.2 million Swiss francs.

It also fetched the highest-ever price per carat, he said, with the buyer shelling out 4.02 million Swiss francs per carat.

The previous world record for a jewel sold at auction was held by the 24.78-carat “Graff Pink” diamond, which was sold by Southeby’s for $46.2 million in November 2010.

This is not the first time Lau has bought rare jewels for his daughter. In 2009, he reportedly spent $9.5 million on another blue diamond, which he renamed the “Star of Josephine”.

Josephine is his daughter with girlfriend and former aid Chan Hoi-wan, according to local media. The 64-year-old also has two children with long-time partner Yvonne Lui.

In March last year, he was found guilty of bribing a former minister in the gambling enclave of Macau in an attempt to purchase a prime development site.

Lau, who was not in Macau for the sentencing, is unlikely serve time as the two semi-autonomous Chinese cities do not have an extradition agreement.

He was locked in a telephone bidding war for eight minutes for “Blue Moon” before the hammer went down, with the precious jewel staying within its pre-sale estimate of $35-55 million.

The diamond was discovered in South Africa in January last year and was the largest cushion-shaped blue stone in the fancy vivid category to ever appear at auction.

Experts say the market for coloured diamonds has grown increasingly robust and both the blue and pink diamonds garnered a lot of attention in the run up to this week’s jewel sales in Geneva.

Photo Credits : AFP

Valet crashes 40 Million Ferrari as he goes to deliver it to the owner

An Italian garage attendant who managed to crash a 40 Million Ferrari into the front of a shop at high speed hence writing it off.

Roberto Cinti, 38, ended up in hospital after the smash, and was treated more for shock than any physical injury.

The driver was delivering the 599 GTO to its Dutch owners in an area said to be a short distance.

But despite only having to travel a short distance, he smashed into a shop front, virtually destroying that as well.

He says he I got confused and instead of braking, he pressed down on the accelerator.

The 599 GTO is powered by a 670bhp V12 engine and weighs only 1,495kg.

It uses F1 racing technology and will do 208mph and 0-60mph in 3.4 seconds.

Italian newspapers report that the insurance company is probing the incident.

Angry wife carts away property worth 15 Million

A husband watched helplessly as his wife carried away household goods worth Sh15 million from their luxury matrimonial home in Karen on Monday.

George and Joan Oballa’s marriage has been troubled since last year. They had been summoned to appear before the Children’s Court in Milimani on Wednesday to discuss custody of the children.

Joan, a senior employee at Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, stormed the home with armed police officers and hired youth.

She loaded TV sets, leather sofa sets, beds, dining tables, mattresses, music systems, cookers, fridges, washing machines, clothing and bedding onto three lorries.

“I am shocked that she even took away my clothes and other essential personal documents,” said her husband George, an oil company consultant.

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Hired youth pack household stuff at George Odhiambo Oballa’s house in Karen.

Joan left their eight-bedroom residence to stay with her mother, who is said to be influential and wealthy.

She said she was taking a much-needed break to cool down because endless arguments with her husband had taken an emotional toll on her, George said.

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One of the rooms in George Odhiambo Oballa’s house in Karen

“We had been staying in peace until sometime last year, when she decided to walk away and never to return to her matrimonial home,” he said outside their house moments after the property was carted away.

Joan obtained court orders to evict George from their matrimonial house even before she formally divorced him as required by law before division of property.

The outside view of George Odhiambo Oballa’s house in Karen

“It is unfortunate that she has not been able to listen and understand the need for us to sort out our differences amicably for the interest of our children,” George said.

He complained his home had been reduced to a “huge shell”.

“She has gone to the schools and managed to get the children out and into her custody, while the custody issue is not in contention,” George said.

The court allowed the children to stay with him. One of the children studies in a Sh900,000 to Sh1 million-a-year school in Nairobi.

He said his wife walked out of their marriage and would return whenever she felt like it.

“When she decided to live with her mother, I had obliged and allowed her to follow her heart,” he said.

After moving to court for custody, the court ruled the children were being well taken care of, but she was allowed to come and visit, he said.

During the Monday incident, doors and other property was destroyed as hired youth forced their way into the house.