Akin Gump Helps Clients Resolve Claim to One of the Largest Sapphires in the World

(New York) – Akin Gump has helped clients Auction House 43, Inc.; Modem Pawn Brokers, Inc.; and Boris Aronov successfully resolve a nearly year-long battle involving an extraordinarily rare unheated blue Kashmir sapphire (the “Royal Sapphire”). The Royal Sapphire was set to be auctioned in November 2015 by Phillips Auction House but was withdrawn from auction after representatives of a Geneva-based gem dealer claimed it was the same stone as one that went missing from the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan, Italy in 1996, just days before it was to be auctioned as one of the premier pieces of an auction billed as “The Magical Art of Cartier.” That sapphire was the largest faceted Kashmir sapphire ever to be set for auction.

In December 2015, a consortium of insurance companies that claimed to have obtained the rights to the Royal Sapphire commenced an action in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, seeking replevin of the Royal Sapphire and millions in monetary damages.

Kashmir sapphires of any size are already among the rarest and most-prized type of sapphires that exist, but the plaintiffs also produced evidence—based on a review of historical records and more than 200 auction catalogues—suggesting that there are only four other known Kashmir sapphires in the world that weighed over 40 carats, with the largest one being 45 carats. Moreover, while most sapphires are heat-treated by jewelers to improve color, clarity and appearance, the Royal Sapphire is “unheated” and stands on its own natural brilliance and color. Based on these facts and other identifying characteristics, the plaintiffs claimed that Royal Sapphire was the stone that went missing in 1996.

Late last year, after less than a year of litigation, Akin Gump and its clients were able to resolve all of the plaintiffs’ and other outstanding claims to the stone in exchange for a limited payment. The plaintiffs relinquished any and all rights, claims and interest in the Royal Sapphire. Auction House 43, Inc. now enjoys uncontested ownership of the Royal Sapphire and has recently begun the process of marketing the stone for sale.

The Akin Gump team was led by litigation partner Sean E. O’Donnell. He was joined by fellow partner Parvin Moyne and senior counsel Sunish Gulati.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

# # #