Kulthoum necklace sold for $1.4m
Dubai, April 30, 2008
An antique necklace made up of 1,888 pearls that once belonged to the Arab world's most famous singer Umm Kulthoum has been sold for Dh5.1 million ($1.4 million) at an auction in Dubai.
According to Christie's, an anonymous bidder paid 10 times more than the estimated range of Dh293,600-400,000 for the bejewelled piece, after a tense battle with a second contender at the million-dollar mark.
Christie's Dubai branch said an anonymous buyer from the Middle East bought the nine-strand necklace that belonged to Umm Kulthoum for $1,385,000 — more than 10 times the price expected by Christie's — to a round of thundering applause from the packed room.
The auction house had estimated the half-yard necklace's worth at $120,000, without taking into an account its immense sentimental value.
'It was a far greater amount than estimated,' said Matthew Paton, spokesman for Christie's London.
The necklace was one of the few valuables the Egyptian-born singer kept. As a champion of many humanitarian causes and caretaker of the poor, she gave most of her wealth away during her lifetime.
The diva's descendants had offered the necklace for sale. It was Umm Kulthoum's favorite piece of jewelry, one she wore only for special occasions and never while performing on stage.
Umm Kulthoum was famous for her emotive songs that continue to transfix audiences across the Arab world, 30 years after her death.
She was also adored by ordinary people and heads of state alike both for her voice and her pursuit of humanitarian causes across the Middle East.
The pearl necklace with its multicolored enamel and white stone details was designed in 19th century India. It was a gift to the diva by the late president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a few years before her death in 1975 at the age of 70.