At 1,109 carats, big as a tennis ball, the world’s largest uncut diamond was expected to shatter records at a June Sotheby’s auction. How did the dazzling stone go unsold? An exclusive reveals what went wrong.
‘The assassination of William Lamb began at 6:45 P.M. on a soft June night. Spectators packed the killing ground, a sales room on the second floor of Sotheby’s, in London. The victim wore the raiment of his caste, a crisp tuxedo. A few yards in front of where he sat, blazing in its spotlight on a plinth beside the auctioneer, was a 1,109-carat top-color white diamond called Lesedi La Rona, the vessel of Lamb’s hopes for a bold new way to sell rough diamonds. His wife had bought him new shoes for the occasion, the toe caps spattered with faux gems. He wore socks patterned with jaunty slashes of color.’