In April 2012, diamond dealer Brett Stettner made headlines when he won the top lots at sales at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s. At Christie’s, he bid $15.7 million for the Clark Pink, a ring-set 9 ct. cushion-cut fancy vivid purplish pink diamond. The next day at Sotheby’s, he bid $2.4 million for a fancy blue diamond ring from Tiffany & Co. Both bids set records.
“Brett Stettner has had a very expensive week,” wrote Business Insider.
But now we can report that both transactions ended up canceled.
Says Sotheby’s spokesman Darrell Rocha: “I can confirm for you that the sale to Mr. Stettner was canceled and the diamond sold privately thereafter.”
And from Christie’s spokeswoman Erin McAndrew: “The auction sale to the named buyer was canceled. Christie’s then brokered a private sale of the diamond to a collector immediately afterwards.”
Stettner declined comment, but indicated he would like to address the topic at a later date.
Auction watchers describe the situation as quite unusual. “It’s extremely rare for a sale not to be completed,” says veteran auction watcher Ettagale Blauer. “I have been covering auctions for 30 years, and I’ve never seen this happen before.”
And it’s caused some changes in the auction business. Sources tell me that it has made a difference in how auction houses hand out the high-value paddles. And one buyer reports that the major sellers have significantly tightened up their auction criteria.
“Houses are deeply vetting customers and bid contracts are being signed in advance,” he says. “Big buyers must be preapproved at almost all houses now. They’re even asking for escrow funds up front.”
He adds: “The new normal is definitely going to be one of dashed T’s and dotted I’s.”