Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => The Wittlesbachs => Topic started by: boleynfan on December 10, 2008, 12:54:32 PM

Title: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: boleynfan on December 10, 2008, 12:54:32 PM
Did you see this sold today at a Christie's auction for £16,393,250 ($24,262,008).  It is "a rare 35.6 carat 17th century grey-blue diamond. The diamond was part of the dowry of the Infanta Mararita Teresa upon her engagement to Leopold I of Austria, given by her father King Philip IV of Spain"

Where has it been, historically speaking?  Anyone know?

Picture at:
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: MarieCharlotte on December 10, 2008, 01:10:49 PM
In former times, the famous Wittelsbach diamond was at the top of the Bavarian King's crown:



Ludwig I.

Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: MarieCharlotte on December 10, 2008, 03:11:03 PM
Some sources say that the diamond originally comes from India. Philipp IV. of Spain chose it as dowry for his daughter Margarita Teresa who married Emperor Leopold I. in 1664. Then the diamond belonged to the Austrian crown jewels.

When Archduchess Maria Amalia, daughter of Emperor Joseph I. and cousin of Maria Theresia, married Kurfürst Karl Albrecht in 1722, this unique diamond came into possession of the Wittelsbachs. There is also a portrait showing Maria Amalia with the blue Wittelsbach diamond.

Until 1918, the diamond was at the top of the Bavarian King's crown. The diamond could been seen in public for the last time at Ludwig III.'s and Queen Marie Therese's funeral in Munich in 1921.

In 1931, the diamond (and other jewels of the Bavarian crown jewels) was auctioned at Christie's for the first time. No one knows where the diamond had been for the next decades. Some sources say that Helmut Horten, a German businessman, bought it and gave it as a present to his Austrian wife Heidi. Mrs. Horten, who was over 30 years younger than her husband, is still alive. She was his sole heiress. Maybe she wasn't  dependent on the Wittelsbach diamond.
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: Lucien on December 12, 2008, 09:20:33 AM

Courtesy HJA's
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: Mari on December 19, 2008, 02:55:18 PM
it would be interesting to know with certainty where the Diamond was during the thirty years until it resurfaced in 1961! Also saved by which Jeweler who recognized its museum quality. Beautiful color and cut!
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: aleksandr pavlovich on December 19, 2008, 04:06:14 PM
Attention "Mari," Response #4:    Here , I believe, is part of the answer that you seek:     From a "Google" search:  ", The Wittelsbach."      "Credit for the recognition of the true identity of the blue diamond must go to the late Joseph Komkommer, a leading figure in the Belgian diamond industry and the 4th generation of a diamond family."  This occurred in 1962, according to the foregoing.   The sources quoted are: "Famous Diamonds," by Ian Balfour and "Traditional Jewelry of India," by Oppi Untracht.         Regards,  AP
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: Mari on December 20, 2008, 02:34:10 AM
Thank you so much Aleksandr Pavlovich!! I decided to follow the name of the Jeweler and see what else I coud find out...I thught this interesting...

Through the centuries the stone passed into the Austrian and then the Bavarian Crown Jewels, and formed the central piece in the Bavarian crown. The Bavarian authorities are now considering whether to put in a bid to bring the blue stone home.

The state was humiliated when, two years ago, the crown was put on display and a piece of blue glass had to be placed in the empty socket. Horst Seehofer, Bavaria's Prime Minister, says that he is determined to restore Bavarian pride by buying the gem.

"It's a lot of money, but we have to think about it," said a senior Bavarian official in Munich. "I believe it belongs in Bavaria. It's just a question of whether we can be seen splashing out money on jewellery in hard times."

Hans Ottomayer, the director of the German Historical Museum in Berlin and an authority on the history of the diamond, said: "It's an obligation after all the blunders of the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s."

The diamond passed into the hands of the Wittelsbachs, the royal family of Bavaria, when the Austrian archduchess, Maria Amalia, married the Bavarian prince Karl Albrecht in 1722. It stayed in the family, even after the monarchy was abolished in 1918.

The Great Depression and the runaway inflation of the 1920s came close to bankrupting the dynasty and the Wittelsbach Blue was offered for auction at Christie's in 1931. At that time no buyer was found. The stone was returned to Munich, and disappeared from view.

It resurfaced in 1961 when the heirs of one of Europe's most successful diamond dealers, Romi Goldmuntz, sought out a fellow dealer on Antwerp's Pelikaanstraat, the jeweller Joseph Komkommer. They unwrapped the big stone on Mr Komkommer's viewing table and asked him to cut it. Mr Komkommer sensed that the diamond was historically significant, refused to tamper with it, and together with other dealers bought it from the Goldmuntz family.

By 1964 the Wittelsbach Blue had been passed on to a Hamburg jeweller and it disappeared from view again.

Juergen Evers, an expert on the diamond, believes that it was sold to the department store magnate Helmut Horten, who then gave it to his young bride, Heidi, as a wedding present in 1966. Horten died in 1987, but his widow now ranks as the wealthiest woman in Austria with a personal fortune of more than €3 billion.

The Horten Foundation has not commented on whether Mrs Horten has the Wittelsbach Blue but there have been reported sightings of her attending high society parties wearing a large blue diamond.

Udo Jürgens, the German pop singer who has befriended her, describes her as "a timid deer, very shy." After the death of her husband, she re-married a French businessman. Her current partner is reported to be a British financier.

If Mrs Horten does turn out to have owned the diamond for the past four decades, one mystery still remains: what happened to the Wittelsbach Blue during the Second World War?

Diamonds forever

— The largest blue diamond is the Hope, weighing 45.52 carats, currently in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. It was formerly part of the French Crown Jewels

— Until 1723 all diamonds worn by European royalty came from India. Diamonds were discovered there in the 4th century BC

— These include not only the Wittelsbach Blue and the Hope, but also the Koh-i-Noor, now in the British Crown Jewels, and the Orlov diamond in the Kremlin

— In April 2008, the Louvre bought the Empress Eugenie Diamond brooch at a Christie's auction so that it could be returned to the French Crown Jewels

Austrian Times

Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: Yelena Aleksandrovna on September 21, 2009, 07:22:18 PM
What beautiful crown! This diamond was really beautiful, certainly I haven't seen any of that color.
Where is nowadays the crown... on a museum?
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: primrose on January 22, 2010, 09:08:16 PM
A new exhibition opening at the Smithsonian Institute January 28 will feature the Wittelsbach diamond alongside the Hope diamond. Someone I’ve been in touch with at the Smithsonian sent me an email today with the following information:

“The new exhibit pairs the Hope Diamond with another famous diamond - the Wittelsbach-Graff -  which has not been seen in public for over 50 years.  It is a wonderful way to kick off our Museum’s Centennial Year.
The diamond has an intriguing story.  For centuries, because of their Indian origin and amazing similarities in color, it has been rumored that the Hope and Wittelsbach were once part of the same crystal.  Having both diamonds together presents our scientists with the unique opportunity to study and compare the diamonds, side by side, using phosphorescence spectroscopy and other tests that might provide evidence that will support or disprove such a possibility.  This is an opportunity we simply could not pass up.”

This exhibit runs from January 28 to August 1. For AP members interested in the royal jewels and gemstones this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see what are perhaps the two most famous diamonds in history!
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: Silja on January 23, 2010, 11:53:50 AM
This diamond was really beautiful,

"was" is probably the right expression.  After centuries of retaining its original Indian cut, the formerly unique diamond has now been re-cut by the jeweller Graff to "improve" its looks and adjust it to modern tastes.

See the difference here (the first image shows the "improvement"):
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: aleksandr pavlovich on January 23, 2010, 12:52:36 PM
IMO, there is no doubt that the recutting has made it more billiant in eye-appeal, but I cannot help but feel that "layers of history" have been stripped from it in the process.  Still an awesome stone, though!   AP
Title: Re: The Wittelsbach Diamond
Post by: Mari on March 01, 2010, 11:58:11 PM
I think the history lost is just as important as making it more sparkly. Its color was so deep in the original cut...