Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale

A rare, ex-works Aston Martin Ulster racing car from 1935 has sold for £2.9 million at the annual Bonhams auction during the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Aston Martin Ulster Team Car, LM19, sold for £2,913,500, one of the highest amounts ever achieved for a pre-war British sports car and smashing the existing record for a pre-war Aston Martin.

A 1961 Porsche RS-61 Spyder offered by Stirling Moss sold for £1,905,500.
A Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster sold for £1,513,500. Unveiled in 1998, at the time the CLK was most expensive production car ever built. The model offered at Bonhams was the very first example ever built.

1954 Ferrari 4.9-litre 375-Plus Sports-Racing Two-Seat Spider Competizione. Sold for £10,753,500 in 2014

1932 Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Long Chassis Touring Spider. Sold for: £2,689,500

1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Double Pullman Limousine with coachwork by Barker. Sold for: £4,705,500 million




Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Millennium Dome Raid

The Millennium Dome raid was an attempted robbery of the Millennium Dome's diamond exhibition in Greenwich, South East London on November 7, 2000. A local gang including Lee Wenham, Raymond Betson and William Cockram had planned to ram-raid the De Beers diamond exhibition which was being held in the dome at the time.

The gang had then planned to escape via the Thames in a speedboat.
Police caught raiders red-handed when they foiled a massive diamond robbery at the Millennium Dome, a court has heard. Their actions stopped the robbers getting away with £200m worth of "perhaps the rarest and finest" diamonds in the world, the Old Bailey was told.

Martin Heslop QC prosecuting, spoke at the start of the trial of six men accused of plotting to rob the De Beers Millennium Diamond Exhibition.
Mr Heslop said the robbers were caught as they smashed their way into the Dome with a JCB digger, equipped with a giant mechanised shovel.
The attempted robbery was foiled by the Flying Squad of the Metropolitan Police Service, who already had the gang members under surveillance for their suspected roles in a number of unsuccessful armoured vehicle robberies. The operation to foil the robbery was the biggest operation undertaken in the Flying Squad's history and at trial the judge in the case made a special point of commending the way it was carried out.
The digger had been modified to carry four people inside. "Because of the very nature of the vehicle, it was less likely that anyone would have any chance of stopping it as they made their getaway," said Mr Heslop. Those inside came equipped with gas masks, smoke grenades and bottles of ammonia to discharge, he told the jury.

They also held a sledgehammer, wire cutters, a sophisticated nail gun and body armour.
The robbery was planned professionally and carefully down to the last detail and almost succeeded. But senior police officers, suspicious of a plan to obtain the diamonds, mounted a sophisticated operation to thwart it. On the night before the raid they removed the DeBeers diamonds and replaced them with worthless fakes, just in case the robbers succeeded.

Undercover police officers and sophisticated CCTV were ready in wait for the robbers, the court heard.
Four men who attempted to pull off a daring £200m diamond heist at the Millennium Dome have been found guilty of conspiring to rob. Gang members were caught by armed police as they smashed their way into the south east London attraction with an earth mover in November 2000.

The guilty men are: •Aldo Ciarrocchi, 32, of Bermondsey, London
•William Cockram, 49, of Catford, London
•Raymond Betson, 40, of Chatham, Kent
•Robert Adams, 57, no fixed address

Betson and Cockram were jailed for 18 years each. Adams and Ciarrocchi got 15 years each. Meredith was jailed for five years. The four had admitted conspiring to steal the 12 diamonds, including the Millennium Star, one of the world's largest gems, from the De Beers Millennium Exhibition.
The court heard how Adams - known as Bob the Builder - had confessed to police after his arrest.

He told officer Brian McNamara: "I was 12 inches from pay day. It would have been a blinding Christmas." Adams described trying to break through the £50,000 three-quarter inch armoured plated glass vault with a sledgehammer. "I cannot believe how easily the glass went. I only hit it twice," he told the officer.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Mughal Empire in Gold and Gems

The Mughals were descendants of the Central Asian conqueror Timur (known in the West as Tamerlane) and the Mongol ruler, Genghis Khan. The Mughal Empire, which at its peak spanned modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, was established by Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, who invaded India in 1526.

The Mughals ruled for over three centuries before the arrival of the British in 1858.

The Timur ruby (also Khiraj-i-alam, "Tribute to the World") is an unfaceted, 361-carat polished red spinel gemstone set in a necklace in 1853

Crown of the Emperor Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor. 1850. Gold, turquoises, rubies, diamonds, pearls, emeralds, feathers and velvet

Carved emerald circular box. Mughal India circa 1635. An identical cypress is carved on each panel.

Turban ornament. 1700-1750. Wearing plumes in a turban indicated royal status in Mughal India.
The Mughals appreciation for beauty is evident. Treasures were encrusted with rubies, diamonds and emeralds and set in gold using the kundan technique, a typically Indian method of setting gemstones without the use of bezels and prongs.

Emerald is 217.80 carats and dates to 1695-1696. It is the largest inscribed Mughal emerald known.

Kundan set eagle pendant. Rubies, diamonds, pearls, enamel.

Mughal parrot finger ring (c.1600–1625) It is set with rubies, emeralds, diamonds and a single sapphire.

Bird Finger Ring (17th century). Gold, rubies, emeralds, turquoises.
The reign of Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, was the golden age of Mughal architecture. He erected several large monuments, the most famous of which is the Taj Mahal at Agra, as well as the Moti Masjid, Agra, the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Delhi, and the Lahore Fort.

The Mughal Empire reached it's zenith during the reign of Aurangzeb.
Pendant in the form of an eagle, 18th century. Gold, cast and chased, set with foiled diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires in gold.

Gold and enamel belt buckle in two pieces with inlaid diamonds. Enamel decoration on reverse of tiger attacking a boar. Rectangular element with small round ring through which oblong ring fits. Hook is attached to this. Enamel tiger attacking a deer in foliage on reverse.

Gold, pearl, ruby, diamond and enamel squatting duck on a stand.
Gold and enamel figurine of an elephant with large natural baroque pearl forming its back and diamonds on its head.
A carved emerald flask with stopper, India, circa 18th century. The body of faceted hexagonal form, cut and carved on each face with a floral stem, the stopper carved with eight stylised leaves and a star design to the top.

Dress archery ring of Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan. Second quarter of the 17th century. Gold set with carved and polished uncut diamonds, rubies and emeralds.
An Imperial Mughal spinel necklace with eleven polished baroque spinels for a total weight of 1,131.59 carats. Three of the spinels are engraved. Two with the name of Emperor Jahangir (1569-1627), one with the three names of Emperor Jahangir, Emperor Shah Jahan and Emperor Alamgir, also known as Aurangzeb.

Portrait of Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Banu Begum). She was the favourite wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. She died shortly after giving birth to her fourteenth child in 1631. The following year the emperor began work on the mausoleum that would house her body. The result was the world-famous Taj Mahal.
A Mughal masterpiece. The necklace features five pendant Golconda diamonds with emerald drops. The central stone weighs 28 carats and is the largest table-cut diamond known. The five surrounding stones—weighing 96 carats, collectively—comprise the largest known matching set of table-cut diamonds. From the 17th century.

A rare Mughal pale green jadeite snuff bottle. 1800-1900. The translucent stone is of pale icy green tone. 2 in. (5 cm.) high, pink tourmaline stopper and bone spoon.

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