Tycoon's gift to daughter, aged 7 - $69m diamond

Mr Joseph Lau (left) with girlfriend Chan Hoi Wan and their daughter Josephine in Hong Kong last year. He paid a record US$48.4 million for the 12.03-carat "Blue Moon" diamond (top) at an auction on Wednesday, a day after he spent US$28.5 million on
Mr Joseph Lau (left) with girlfriend Chan Hoi Wan and their daughter Josephine in Hong Kong last year.PHOTOS: APPLE DAILY, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Mr Joseph Lau (left) with girlfriend Chan Hoi Wan and their daughter Josephine in Hong Kong last year. He paid a record US$48.4 million for the 12.03-carat "Blue Moon" diamond (top) at an auction on Wednesday, a day after he spent US$28.5 million on
He paid a record US$48.4 million for the 12.03-carat "Blue Moon" diamond (above) at an auction on Wednesday, a day after he spent US$28.5 million on a rare 16.08-carat pink diamond. He renamed both gems after Josephine.
Mr Joseph Lau (left) with girlfriend Chan Hoi Wan and their daughter Josephine in Hong Kong last year. He paid a record US$48.4 million for the 12.03-carat "Blue Moon" diamond (top) at an auction on Wednesday, a day after he spent US$28.5 million on
He paid a record US$48.4 million for the 12.03-carat "Blue Moon" diamond at an auction on Wednesday, a day after he spent US$28.5 million on a rare 16.08-carat pink diamond (above). He renamed both gems after Josephine.

HONG KONG • A Hong Kong billionaire spent a record US$48.4 million (S$69 million) buying a 12.03-carat diamond dubbed "Blue Moon" for his daughter in an auction in Geneva, his spokesman has confirmed.

Property tycoon Joseph Lau, who was found guilty of bribery last year in neighbouring Macau, bought the rock on Wednesday at a Sotheby's auction and immediately renamed it "The Blue Moon of Josephine" after his seven-year-old daughter.

The sale comes a day after he spent US$28.5 million buying a rare 16.08-carat pink diamond - the largest of its kind to ever go under the hammer - from rival auction house Christie's, which he renamed "Sweet Josephine", his Hong Kong- based spokesman confirmed yesterday.

Mr David Bennett, head of Sotheby's international jewellery division, said the "Blue Moon" sale broke several records, making the gemstone "the most expensive diamond, regardless of colour, and the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction".

The jewel, set in a ring, was sold for 48.6 million Swiss francs (S$69 million), including fees, with a starting bid of 43.2 million Swiss francs.

It also fetched the highest-ever price per carat, he said, with the buyer shelling out 4.02 million Swiss francs per carat.

The previous world record for a jewel sold at auction was held by the 24.78-carat "Graff Pink" diamond, which was sold by Sotheby's for US$46.2 million in November 2010.

This is not the first time Mr Lau has bought rare jewels for his daughter. In 2009, he reportedly spent US$9.5 million on another blue diamond, which he renamed the "Star of Josephine".

Josephine is his daughter with girlfriend and former aide Chan Hoi Wan, according to local media. The 64-year-old also has two children with long-time partner Yvonne Lui.

In March last year, he was found guilty of bribing a former minister in the gambling enclave of Macau in an attempt to purchase a prime development site.

Mr Lau, who was not in Macau for the sentencing, is unlikely to serve time as the two semi-autonomous Chinese cities do not have an extradition agreement.

"Blue Moon" was discovered in South Africa in January last year and was the largest cushion-shaped blue stone in the fancy vivid category to ever appear at auction.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2015, with the headline 'Tycoon's gift to daughter, aged 7 - $69m diamond'. Print Edition | Subscribe