Huge opal sells for record price at Alaska auction

A huge opal gemstone sells for a record price at an auction in Alaska, the “Americus Australis,” as it is known weighs more than 11,800 carats and was sold for more than 127,000 euros ($144,000).
The rather unique gem has a long history most recently being kept in a linen closet in a home in Big Lake, north of Anchorage, by Fred von Brandt, who mines for gold in Alaska and whose family has deep roots in the gem and rock business.
Larger than a brick it has been broken into two pieces, which von Brandt said was the practice used decades ago to prove gem quality.
Von Brandt claims stone has been in his family since the late 1950s, when his grandfather bought it from an Australian opal dealer named John Altmann.
The opal was according to hom care of his father, Guy von Brandt, who decided it had been “locked up long enough, that it’s time to put it back out in the world and see what interest it can generate.”
The stone was exhibited at shows until the early 80’s from when con Brandt senior kept it on show in his furniture shop, before stowing it away safely.
They brought the stone to Alaska Premier Auctions & Appraisals in an effort to maximise the sale value, with Nick Cline, a Partner and Appraisal Specialist saying the family has documentation surrounding the provenance of the opal. As part of his research, he contacted Fiona Altmann, granddaughter of John Altmann and General Manager of Altmann + Cherny in Sydney, Australia.
Altmann said her grandfather, in his business dealings, made regular trips to Europe and the U.S.
The auction house said the stone was discovered in the same field in Australia as the opal known as the “Olympic Australis,” which weighs 17,000 carats and is on permanent display in Altmann’s shop. The Olympic had been among the stones that John Altmann and partner Rudi Cherny acquired in 1956, according to Altmann’s company.
Cline said we took a calculated risk and started the bidding at 110,000 euros ($125,000) in an effort to maximise interest. He said that we did not expect to achieve this higher price but that: “We were honoured to conduct the auction of this unique, one-of-a-kind specimen.”
Who bought the huge opal gemstone which sells for a record price has not been made public, nor what their intentions are for the gem.

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Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]