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    An auctioneer who can sell almost anything at record prices

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    Rahul Kadakia may have hit the hammer on the world’s prized wristwatch sales – 31 million Swiss francs ($ 33 ​​million) for a Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chaim – but an early career experience was far less sublime.

    François Curiel, who was then Christie’s global head and president of its European operations, sold me this salad, instructing 24-year-old Mr. Kadakia one day at lunch in Geneva.

    Mr. Kadakia had announced to auction his ambition. He said, “I started the auction and started selling bids – 3,000, 3,200, 3,500 – and asked him to sell his lunch. “I should check some boxes, as soon as fondant, François said, ‘Well, you’ve done a good job selling me a La Salad” and Christy soon gave me a test session. “

    The incident was related two decades later by 46-year-old Mr. Kadakia, who sat in his large corner office at Christie’s headquarters in New York, where he has worked since 2004. His rise is outdated in his collection of business cards Office Wall: Graduate Trainee, London; Junior Specialist, London; Expert, Geneva; Head of Jewelry, America, New York; And international head of jewelry since 2014.

    He It is now considered one of the world’s most successful auctioneers. He Set his first world auction record when he sold a Maharaja’s double-strand natural pearl necklace in 2007 for $ 7.1 million (when $ 7.1 million meant something back). Most recently, the 2019 Maharaja and Mughal Magnifications went on sale, grossing $ 109.3 million.

    “In his two decades of auction, Rahul has consistently been on stage for one of the most exciting and notable moments in auction history,” Tash Perrin, deputy chairman and head of the auction’s training program at Christie, wrote in an email.

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    Credit …Fabrice Coffrini / Agnes France-Presse – Getty Images

    For example, Ms. Perrin wrote, in 2011 Mr. Kadakia was “a co-auctioneer of well-known jewelery from Elizabeth Taylor’s collection that was more than $ 137.2 million, quadrupling prior estimates of sales.”

    Asked if Mr. Kadakia set some other records: Princi Diamond, a fancy deep pink gemstone that sold for $ 39.3 million in 2013, the highest auction price for diamonds found in India’s famous Golconda mines (and now Is the subject of a proprietorship) litigation); Orange, a 14.8-carat pear-shaped fancy vivid orange diamond that sold for $ 35.5 million in 2013, a record for orange diamonds and a world record price of $ 2.3 million per carat; And Oppenheimer Blue, a 14.6-carat fancy vivid blue diamond that sold for $ 57.6 million in 2016, a record price for any blue diamond.

    While some auctions at Christie’s Mr. Kadakia have specialized in one category, selling everything, preventing a shortage of sneakers. (A watch blogger described him as “the best watch auctioneer who is not a watch expert.”

    Mr Kadakia said that the secret to his success was his “ability to feel the room”, a skill he attracted to only the Watch Auction in Geneva in 2019, a biennial event where one-of-a-kind to support research The watch is sold. In Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The first bid was 5 million Swiss francs, then 10.

    “When it went to 17 million, it matched Paul Newman,” he said, referring to the actor’s Rolex Daytona and 2017 auction price, record wristwatch sales at the time. “We were not finished, but were just starting. I felt it. I could smell the juice in the room. It goes on. “

    He Was correct. “At 28 million, there were two bidders left. One was bidding by phone, but I knew that he was actually in the back of the room, he wanted to be there to feel the excitement. “Mr. Kadakia recalled that he indicated his gesture and looked right at the bidder, and made a direct stare.”

    The collector asked his telephone bidder to pay up to 31 million, and he got the watch. (The person has never been publicly identified, and Mr. Kadakia refused to take his name.)

    “You have to know where to look,” he said.

    “The charismatic Rahul Kadakia is fascinated to focus on work,” Elizabeth Dere, chief editor of the watch site Quill and Pad, wrote in the email. “At the Watch Auction Only, he used both his years of experience as an auctioneer and his Swiss connection made the auction experience worldly dubious, while moving the event at a good pace. To see him working in the mannequin – “podium -” is like watching a thrilling mushroom; He really knows how to work in a room other than phone banks with the most bids. “

    The epidemic has presented special challenges in the form of online auctions in place of the individual. “You have to make people feel like they’re in the room,” Mr. Kadakia said, explaining that he tries to do this by personalizing the bids.

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    Credit …Christy’s

    Some auctioneers may refer bidders by their assigned numbers but, Mr. Kadakia said, “I’ll say ‘Thank you, Dubai’ when a bid comes from there or ‘Hong Kong, back;” Do you have another quote? ‘To encourage that customer. “

    Whatever he does through Mr. Kadakia’s passion, he talks animatedly about his rise in Christie, where he has been since 1996.

    His initial training in luxury items came from working in his family’s jewelry business in Mumbai, India. “In India, if you come from a family of jewelers and you are a boy, this is what you do,” Mr. Kadakia said. He Worked in the business between 16 and 21, juggled his time with the school and did “everything” at work.

    An email later added that “the sale of specialty jewelery, which had a huge appetite for the international market,” involved the family business. It caught the attention of Eric Valdiu, head of Christie’s jewelry department in Geneva.

    “He Realized, “continued Mr. Kadakia,” opportunities to meet with great collectors and members of the trade in India. “So Mr. Valdiu came to visit and Mr. Kadakia was accused of roaming around Mumbai.

    “I was 18 or 19 years old,” Mr. Kadakia said. “As I was walking her between appointments, I asked the question: ‘What did you see?” ‘Was there anything worth noting?’

    To work in the jewelry industry, Mr. Kadakia went to the Gemological Institute of America, then to Santa Monica, California. While he was there, the school held a career fair and arrived to represent Mr. Curiel Christie.

    “Three hundred students applied” for jobs at Christie’s, Mr. Kadakia said, “There were 10 interviews and three were hired. I used my connection.” Mr. Valdiu came in through a recommendation, and Mr. Kadakia moved to London for graduate training, then to Geneva for seven years.

    Although Christie now has a training program, Mr. Kadakia learned from experience to be an auctioneer, assisted in small auctions and worked his way up to ordering larger ones.

    Mr. Kadakia recalled one thing: “When you go through the auction process, you are awarded a gawale. So I didn’t have any gavel, “he said. But Mr. Curiel was selected and Mr. Kadakia asked to borrow one. He Chose a model made of wood, a copy of the gavel that Mr. Curiel had placed along the shops in Portobello Road, London’s street corridors.

    “I’ve been borrowing it for 23 years,” Mr. Kadakia said. “I’ve used it for everything sold at Christie’s.”

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