Brick-sized opal sells for nearly $183K at Alaska auction | CBC News


A gemstone billed as one of many largest gem-quality opals in existence was offered for $183,000 ($143,750 US) at public sale in Alaska on Sunday.

The opal, dubbed the “Americus Australis,” weighs greater than 11,800 carats, in keeping with the public sale home Alaska Premier Auctions & Value determinations. It additionally has an extended historical past.

Most lately, it was saved in a linen closet in a house in Large Lake, north of Anchorage, by Fred von Brandt, who mines for gold in Alaska and whose household has deep roots within the gem and rock enterprise.

The opal is bigger than a brick and is damaged into two items, which von Brandt stated was a observe used many years in the past to show gem high quality.

Within the household since Fifties

Von Brandt stated the stone has been in his household because the late Fifties, when his grandfather purchased it from an Australian opal seller named John Altmann.

Von Brandt stated the opal for many years was within the care of his father, Man von Brandt, who determined it had been “locked up lengthy sufficient, that it is time to put it again out on this planet and see what curiosity it may generate.”

“He entrusted me to determine which path we wished to go to half with the stone,” von Brandt advised The Related Press.

This picture offered by Alaska Premier Auctions and Value determinations reveals an opal specimen, Dec. 20. (AP)

The household, with roots in California, exhibited the stone at gem reveals for years, till the early Eighties, he stated. His father then branched out into furnishings and displayed it at his store. Man von Brandt finally moved to Oregon and saved the stone “type of tucked away” for a few years, von Brandt stated.

Von Brandt stated he introduced it with him to Alaska over a yr in the past as he weighed the perfect strategy to a doable sale. He stated he went with Alaska Premier Auctions & Value determinations as a result of he thought it could get extra consideration from the newer firm than a bigger public sale home. 

Provenance needed to be confirmed 

Nick Cline, a accomplice and appraisal specialist with Alaska Premier Auctions & Value determinations, stated the household has documentation on the provenance of the opal. As a part of his analysis, he contacted Fiona Altmann, granddaughter of John Altmann and basic supervisor of Altmann + Cherny in Sydney, Australia.

Altmann stated her grandfather, in his enterprise dealings, made common journeys to Europe and the U.S. 

Altmann stated when Cline emailed her, she was sceptical; the identify of the stone, specifically, threw her. However she stated she began digging and found “one thing with my grandfather’s handwriting with the image of the opal with the phrase ‘Americus Australis.'”

“I with 100 per cent certainty know that their provenance data is 100 per cent correct” as a result of it traces up with data she has, she stated.

The sale features a smaller piece of the opal that von Brandt stated his father reduce off to be worn or displayed. (Mark Thiessen/AP)

The public sale home stated the stone was found in the identical subject in Australia because the opal referred to as the “Olympic Australis,” which weighs 17,000 carats and is on everlasting show in Altmann’s store.

The Olympic had been among the many stones that John Altmann and accomplice Rudi Cherny acquired in 1956, in keeping with Altmann’s firm.

The public sale firm sought a minimal bid of $159,000 ($125,000 US) throughout Sunday’s public sale. Cline stated it was a “calculated danger,” with the corporate going with what it sees as a conservative strategy in hopes of garnering probably the most consideration

“We had been honoured to conduct the public sale of this distinctive, one-of-a-kind specimen,” Cline stated after the public sale.

The sale features a smaller piece of the opal that von Brandt stated his father reduce off to be worn or displayed.


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