There were mixed feelings of pride and pain for the family of the Nizam of Hyderabad while watching online the auction of his famed jewels at Christie’s in New York.
Several pieces from treasure house of Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last ruler of erstwhile Hyderabad state, were sold by globally-renowned auction house on July 19.
A ceremonial sword of the Nizam fetched $1,935,000 (Rs 13.4 crore) while ‘The Mirror of Paradise’, a 52.58 carat rectangular cut-diamond went for $6,517,500 (about Rs 45 crore).
Nawab Najaf Ali Khan was keen to know how much the famed jewels of his grandfather will fetch.
“I was feeling happy that each and every piece of my grandfather’s collection is priceless and is valued so much by art connoisseurs around the world. They were being sold for 10 to 15 times more than their base price,” Najaf Ali Khan told IANS.
He, however, was also sad that the prized possessions of his grandfather were being sold in a distant land and the family did not even know they once belonged to them.
“For the first time we came to know that this was ours. It was natural to feel the pain,” said Najaf Ali Khan, one of the many grandsons of the late Nizam.
The Nizam’s jewels were part of 400 pieces of Indian jewellery that were auctioned under ‘Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence’ sale. It fetched $109,271,875 (Rs 700 crore), which, according to Christie’s, was the highest total for any auction of Indian art and Mughal jewelled objects and second highest for a private jewellery auction.
The Nizam’s jewels, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s dagger, Jaipur Maharani Gayatri Devi’s pearl necklace and other pieces were from collection of Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani, the cousin of the ruler of Qatar. He is said to be owning 6,000 pieces of jewellery, collected from across the world since 2009.
About 30-35 pieces from the Nizam’s collection were believed to have been sold in the auction, which lasted for 12 hours with bidders from 45 countries including India.
A diamond riviera necklace from the collection of the Nizam was auctioned for $2,415,000 (nearly Rs 17 crore). It is an antique diamond, emerald and enamel necklace that the Nizams used to wear during parades. It has almost 200 carats of diamonds from Golconda mines, said to be the earliest mines known to man.
The auction had exceptional diamonds which originate from Golconda mines in Krishna River valley, where the famed Koh-i-Noor was also mined.
The 18th century 17-carat Golconda diamond ‘Arcot II’, which was once owned by Nawab of Arcot, was sold for $3,375,00 (Rs 23 crore)
Nobody in the Nizam’s family knows how the priceless items from his collection found their way abroad. Some family members believe this happened after the death of last Nizam.
Mir Osman Ali Khan, the world’s richest man of his times, passed away in 1967, about 19 years after Hyderabad state acceded to the Indian Union.
Interestingly, Sheikh Hamad Bin Abdullah Al Thani was in India in April this year to see the exhibition of the Nizam’s famous jewellery. The collection of 173 pieces of jewellery, owned by the government of India, was on display at the National Museum in New Delhi.
“He was impressed with the Nizam’s jewellery,” recalled Najaf Ali Khan. He, however, said this was his first meeting with Al Thani and he had no knowledge that Qatari royal was going to put up the Nizam’s jewels for auction.