This musical gemstone carousel, which required 960 hours of stone sculpting and cutting to make, was the top lot in Bonham’s “100 Lapidary Treasures from The Estate of Gerard L. Cafesjian” auction Tuesday.
Los Angeles—Interest in philanthropist and businessman Gerard Cafesjian’s personal lapidary collection proved to be high with Tuesday’s auction in Los Angeles selling 100 percent of the lots.

On March 12, Bonhams Los Angeles hosted “100 Lapidary Treasures from The Estate of Gerard L. Cafesjian,” showcasing a collection that reflects the late Cafesjian’s love of gemology, color, and form.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1925 to Armenian immigrants, Cafesjian served in the Navy during World War II and then went to school to earn degrees in geology, economics and, later, a law degree.

In 1952, he started a decades-long career with West Publishing Company, one of the largest publishers of legal materials, rising through the ranks and eventually amassing personal wealth.

He was known for his philanthropic pursuits, including launching an annual art exhibition called “Art and Law,” founding the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and establishing the Cafesjian Family Foundation to donate millions to Armenian charities.

Tuesday’s sale of Cafesjian’s personal collection was led by an illuminated musical gemstone and gold carousel by Andreas von Zadora-Gerlof, circa 1991, which went for nearly double its pre-sale estimate when it garnered $262,575.

Cafesjian commissioned the carousel directly from the artist. The piece required 960 hours of stone sculpting and cutting, 3,250 hours of goldsmithing and 210 hours of stone setting to complete, according to Bonhams.

And the carousel wasn’t the only piece to go for well above its estimate.

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The No. 2 lot in the sale was the ruby, granite and gold eagle sculpture by Luis Alberto Quispe Aparicio, circa 2007, pictured above.

It sold for $62,575 Tuesday, compared with a pre-sale estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.

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It was followed closely by the “Bleeding Hearts” gold flower study (seen above) by renowned lapidary artist Manfred Wild.

It is comprised of 15 ruby flowers, white Cacholong opals from the Caspian Sea, 12 green leaves carved from Brazilian emerald, 109 pave-set diamonds, carved rock crystal with four inset sapphire slabs, two marquise-shaped ruby cabochons, and two triangular-shaped emerald cabochons.

The piece went for above its estimate of $30,000 to $50,000, selling for $56,325.

Rounding out the top lots were a carved agate falcon on a copper base by lapidary artist Gerd Dreher and a natural citrine carving of a lion by Gerhard Becker.

Meanwhile, the two online-only sales—“Gemstones from The Estate of Gerard L. Cafesjian” and“Minerals from The Estate of Gerard L. Cafesjian”—are still currently open for bidding. They end tomorrow (March 16).


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