23-room Ont. mansion could sell for 'half-price' at auction

CTV Toronto
Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 11:13AM EST


Bargain hunters take note, auctioneers expect a massive, custom-built Mississauga, Ont. mansion could sell for half-price when it goes on the block at the end of the month.

Ritchies Auctioneers will be taking bids on January 26, starting at around $4 million, on what Ritchies Auctioneers director Hon. Col. Kashif Khan said is the most valuable estate in Mississauga.

Khan expects the house to sell in the $6 million range, and while that's a fair chunk of change, it's still about half the mansion's original $11 million asking price.

According to Khan, the auction house was brought in to sell the property in order to reach buyers outside of Canada.

“The marketing required is different than selling a $500,000 home on MLS, so we’re reaching out to international buyers in Asia, South America and Europe through the auction process,” Khan told CTV News Channel. 

And according to Khan, the sale is a “once in a blue moon” opportunity. "A lucky consumer is going to get a great deal on a house, worth double than its list price," Khan said in a statement.

For that kind of money, the buyer will get an 18,000 sq. ft, 23-room property next to a ravine and country club. Potential buyers from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Hong Kong and Russia have already shown interest in the property, Khan said.

Besides the requisite "high-end" kitchen and master suite with a room-sized closet and white marble ensuite, the house also features a wine cellar, home theatre and its very own elevator to ease travel between its four floors -- “everything you would expect in a home for $11 million,” Khan said.

And if moving house isn't in the cards, Ritchies will also be accepting bids on an estimated $4 million selection of the property's contents. And we're not talking old IKEA furniture. Instead, Ritchies says the content includes an 18-carat yellow diamond appraised for at least $1 million, a 21-carat sapphire valued at over $500,000 and a Hermes Birkin crocodile handbag said to be worth more than $80,000.

"The selection available for purchase will be offered at a fraction of the cost at other vendors," Khan said.

If you're considering an offer, or merely want to satisfy your curiousity, click to see a virtual tour of the residence located at 2290 Saxony Court, near Mississauga Road north of the Queen Elizabeth Way.



Uploaded this post on Sunday, November 27, 2016

More high-end Toronto real estate going the auction route

Susan Pigg
Posted: Tues., April 14, 2015

It would be a stretch to call the monstrous mansion at 40 Park Lane Circle one of a kind, given that it’s fashioned after France’s Palace of Versailles.
It does, however, boast one of the biggest ballrooms in the tony Bridle Path area and is somewhat unusual for its money pit of problems: its owners and ambitious creators ended up in bankruptcy court and the house is being auctioned off Thursday — for a second time.
This is not unprecedented.
The earlier attempt to sell 40 Park Lane and Thursday’s event are the third and fourth auctions carried out by New York-based Concierge Auctions in the Toronto area. Acting for a single owner, it also auctioned two other properties — a 13,610-square-foot “minimalist masterpiece” in the Bayview-York Mills area and a 44th-floor luxury condo at the Four Seasons Private Residences —but the deal didn’t close. The owner ended up unhappy with some of the terms of the deal and pulled the plug.
Ritchies Auctioneers, which has done a number of high-end auctions, has also had its share of closing problems, but it remains determined to grow the real estate arm of its business in Canada.
Its biggest success to date has been the sale of a 9,000-square-foot modernist property in Mississauga’s Doulton Estates last April. It sold at auction for $4 million, some $1.25 million less than the owner paid in 2010, according to sales records.
Also for sale at that auction was the so-called “Saxony Manor,” on the market again after a bidder failed to close on an offer made at an auction in January, 2014. The house later sold for less than it cost to build.
Inside 2290 Saxony Court in Mississauga
Inside 2290 Saxony Court in Mississauga
A post-auction purchase like that, by someone who had attended the auction, is common, said Kashif Khan, managing director of Ritchies.
“The majority of our properties are not in a distressed situation but owners are choosing to sell through us because they have a unique, difficult-to-value asset and they’d like to close it on their (usually short) time frame,” says Laura Brady, president of Concierge.
Once listed on MLS for $23 million, the mansion at 40 Park Lane Circle — more than 21,000 square feet — drew five serious bids at auction on November 26, 2013, before selling, according to sales records, for a relatively bargain-basement price of $13.4 million.
“The (2013) auction process was great. It was successful. The closing is where it fell apart, but I can’t get into that because it’s an ongoing matter,” says Toronto realtor Barry Cohen, a veteran at selling luxury real estate through traditional means but a relative newcomer to auctioning high-end properties.
“I believe there will be a successful close this time.”
Also on the block at Thursday’s auction, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel, will be a 2.8-acre building lot at 24 Park Lane Circle.
To get into the game, bidders had to be preregistered by Tuesday and had to put down hefty deposits: $250,000 for the mansion and $100,000 for the empty lot.
Concierge, in the seven years it’s been in business, has sold some 200 properties globally, largely in the United States. Given its growing Rolodex of wealthy buyers and high-end real estate professionals always looking for a deal, tt has found auctions are especially successful for properties $10 million and up.
Even Barry Cohen considers himself “part of the converted” — despite 40 Park Lane’s second time on the block.
“You get a different quality of buyer and a bigger reach of marketing.”
6 luxury properties whose owners tried auctions

40 Park Lane Circle

40 Park Lane Circle is being auctioned off April 16.
40 Park Lane Circle is being auctioned off April 16.
Size: More than 21,000 square feet, eight bedrooms and 14 bathrooms on a 2.4-acre lot
The lowdown: This monster mansion in theBridle Path area, fashioned after the Palace of Versailles, overlooks a conservation area and was previously listed on MLS for $23 million before its owners ran out of money and ended up in bankruptcy court. It needs an estimated $1.5 million in finishing touches, including kitchen cupboards and flooring. (Landscaping costs are extra.)
2290 Saxony Court
Size: 18,000 square feet, seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms on a 43-by-180-foot pie-shaped lot
Price: Originally listed on MLS for $11 million, sold in August 2014 for $5.47 million
The lowdown: It took two auctions to firm up a buyer for the so-called “Saxony Manor” — an oversized, French-inspired mansion on a Mississauga cul-de-sac that languished on MLS for three years. Gawkers lined up all day for the first auction in January, 2014. But a $6.2-million bid — less than it cost to build the house — eventually fell apart over financing issues. It finally sold weeks after a second auction in April, 2014 for $5.47 million.

75 Highland Crescent

Inside 75 Highland Cres.
Inside 75 Highland Cres.
Size: 13,000 square feet, four bedrooms and five bathrooms on a 95-by-389-foot lot in Bayview-York Mills area
Price: Originally listed on MLS for $23.9 million in 2011, now down to $13.95 million
The lowdown: Cocktails were called off and the auction was cancelled last June when an 11th-hour bully bid was registered on this “minimalist masterpiece” overlooking the Rosedale Golf Club. The buyer also snapped up its sister property, a condo at the Four Seasons Private Residences. Both deals, for an undisclosed amount, fell apart later when the seller, Toronto entrepreneur Andrei Melkoumov, rejected terms of the offers. It’s back on the MLS.

Suite 4403, 50 Yorkville Avenue

The view from the living room of unit 4403 at the Four Seasons Private Residences.
The view from the living room of unit 4403 at the Four Seasons Private Residences.
Size: 3,422 square feet, two plus one bedrooms, three bathrooms
Price: Now listed on MLS for $7.9 million
The lowdown: This tony condo, complete with bulletproof elevator doors, two terraces, an onyx foyer floor and customized Boffi kitchen, was designed from the concrete walls out by its owner, entrepreneur Andrei Melkoumov. He put it up for sale with his Highland Cres. house while searching for new design projects. While there were four bidders, offering undisclosed millions for the prime unit, the owner backed away and it’s back on MLS for $7.9 million.

Trump International Hotel & Tower, 12th-floor suite

Size: 950 square feet, corner unit in hotel-condo, one bedroom, two bathrooms
Price: Was listed on MLS pre-auction for about $1 million
The lowdown: This sale was a success, says Ritchies Auctioneers, even though the auction house claims hotel executives, quietly fearful a bargain-basement price would devalue other units up for sale in the troubled tower, forced them to move the auction off-site, which affected attendance. There were several offers, most after the auction was over. The highest was $800,000 — about half the list price of similar units. It appears a deal was never finalized.
6 Park Lane Circle
Size: 5,000 square feet plus, five bedrooms, six bathrooms on a 2.35-acre lot
Price: Originally listed on MLS in 2014 for $6.48 million
The lowdown: This circus — a giant white tent was erected onsite for the October, 2012 auction of house, art and jewelry — netted two serious offers. The top one was for $5.4 million from a Richmond Hill woman who made her bid conditional on final approval from her travelling husband. While post-auction negotiations were ongoing, another house sold nearby for less, causing both interested buyers to back off. It was relisted last year on MLS.


Uploaded this post on Sunday, November 27, 2016

Phantom real estate bids are enough of a problem that Ontario is cracking down

Garry Marr
Posted: June 5, 2015 8:16 AM ET

With the new rules, 'You cannot suggest or even imply that you have an offer unless you have one in writing, signed sealed and ready to be delivered,' said Joseph Richer, registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.

With the new rules, 'You cannot suggest or even imply that you have an offer unless you have one in writing, signed sealed and ready to be delivered,' said Joseph Richer, registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.


Starting July 1, the Real Estate Council of Ontario will be enforcing new rules that place strict criteria on what constitutes a bid on a residential property.

The goal is to crack down on the elusive phantom bid, which some homebuyers suspect occur in bidding wars, but are unable to prove.

With the new rules, “You cannot suggest or even imply that you have an offer unless you have one in writing, signed sealed and ready to be delivered,” said Richer, while adding there have been very few formal complaints about phantom bidding over the years.The scam involves a sales agent hinting to prospective buyers there are other bids as a way to coax them to bid higher. “You say, ‘We’re expecting another offer. I do have another offer. You may want to go back to your client and make sure this is their best offer’,” says said Joseph Richer, registrar of RECO. “You are suggesting there might be competing offers when there may or may not be.”

Richer doesn’t say fake bids are not part of the real estate landscape. Instead, he suggests they might be a bigger problem in some municipalities than others. “When I have been out at different boards and associations, some have said, ‘It’s not an issue, but it does happen every now and then,'” he said.

You cannot suggest or even imply that you have an offer unless you have one in writing, signed sealed and ready to be delivered

The current rule is clear that no offer is valid until it is signed. The new rules will force brokerages to keep an offer, or an equivalent summary (basically, a list of buyers and contact info with name of broker, date and time), on record for one year.

However, no amounts will actually be included in the history, and suspicious buyers will only be able to find out if there were truly other offers after the bidding, through a complaint to RECO. In which case, a realtor found guilty of creating a phantom offer would be committing a provincial, though not a criminal, offense.

The changes will ultimately allow the winner of a real estate auction to see if they had been “played” by agents, says Richer. A winning bidder would also be able to see if any offers had been withdrawn, also required under the new law.

Phil Soper, chief executive of Brookfield Real Estate Services, which operates the Royal LePage brand, says he supports the move to protects consumers but has some reservations.

“The requirement appears to be overly cumbersome and bureaucratic and will be challenging for small businesses to comply to,” said Soper, whose company will be ready by July 1.

Real estate lawyer Lawrence Dale, a founder of discount broker Realtysellers, thinks unscrupulous agents are going to find their way around the new rules. “I’m not sure any legislation will stop these people,” says Dale.

I’m not sure any legislation will stop these people

But Dale also thinks that “the issue of phantom buyers might be a concern of buyers who have remorse over the price they paid for a property. They think they overpaid. Some buyers want to blame others for a decision to overpay.”

There’s one thing the process probably won’t do, and that’s slow down the booming housing market where multiple offers have become the norm and a blind bidding process can jack up prices.

Kashif Khan, managing director of Toronto-based Ritchie Auctioneers, says the nature of the Multiple Listings Service system, which handles all the transactions for organized real estate, is that there is no transparency when it comes to bidding.

“You only have to bid incrementally more than the next person,” said Khan, referring to a traditional live auction process. “Canada is a very new market. It’s not a mature market like Europe and Asia, which are hundreds of years old.”

He says when you get into higher-end homes, you can end up bidding hundreds of thousands of dollars more than you have to because you don’t know the competing bids.

“The (current real estate) system is designed to get someone to pay the maximum they are willing to pay, not the fair market value of a property,” said Khan. “This is what happens when the market is hot. Fair market value is not even a consideration and it causes irresponsible situations.”

Peter Norman, chief economist with Altus Group, agrees there are transparency issues in Canada.

“You might have some people who may have had a bad adviser or doing a bid themselves who might be taken advantage of,” he says, adding he doesn’t think the price increases we’ve seen in housing can be blamed on the process. “Once you get above the individual transaction level, the numbers smooth out over a bunch of transactions.”

Uploaded this post on Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fakih and Khan: Canada's Muslims should expand charitable efforts beyond their own communities

Mohamad Fakih and Kashif Khan, National Post
Posted: November 25, 2014 7:00 AM ET

Last month’s attacks in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., which each saw a Canadian soldier lose his life, were committed by individual extremists bent on creating divisions between the communities of the world. As we processed the implications of these attacks, and the fact that, yet again, extremists were obscuring the true nature of the Islamic religion, we discovered we shared a common desire: We wished to provide greater exposure to Muslim peoples’ true character of giving and generous support for this wonderful country.

Together, we approached the True Patriot Love Foundation (TPL), which works to support Canada’s military and veterans. We are proud that TPL has partnered with us to create a new fundraising vehicle specifically aimed at Muslim business leaders — the $1-million Salaam-TPL Fund to support veterans and military families. We’ve donated $100,000 to begin the funding drive. Now, we’re challenging our fellow Muslim business leaders to direct some of their charitable giving to support broader causes that affect our fellow Canadians.

Muslims in many countries across the world engage in the practice of zakat, which entails donating 2.5% of one’s wealth to a charitable cause. In our discussions with leading Canadian imams, and our review of the fund-raising activities conducted in mosques across Canada, reveals that most of the money that Canadian Muslims donate to charity stays within our own community. The donations address poverty and related issues in many Muslim countries, whether that’s Bangladesh or Pakistan, Lebanon or Iran.

Once upon a time, that was as it should be, or was at least to be expected. Until recently, most Muslim-Canadian families were first-generation immigrants. They did not have the resources to send money elsewhere when it was enough of a struggle to support our own community, whether in our home country or within our new communities in Canada.

Thanks to a lot of hard work and the opportunities provided by life in Canada, many of us have done well in our new home country. Take Mohamad’s story. He arrived in Canada in 2001 from Lebanon to find a better life for his family. His first job here was at a Tim Hortons. Then he bought a Middle Eastern restaurant that was on the verge of bankruptcy, and soon turned it into a thriving business. Paramount Fine Foods now has eleven locations, 800 employees and $32-million in annual sales.

Other Muslim-Canadians are more like Kashif. Born in Canada, Kashif watched his immigrant parents work hard to create a life for their family in their chosen country. His parents’ labours instilled in Kash a strong work ethic — and an entrepreneurial spirit that today allows him to successfully operate Ritchies Auctioneers, as well as several other businesses.

Many first- and second-generation Muslim immigrants have shared our success. They’re lawyers and doctors, entrepreneurs and business executives. But a gap has existed between the causes supported by Muslim-Canadian immigrants and those supported by the broader Canadian public. Now, we’re challenging our fellow Muslim business leaders and professionals to widen the scope of the charities our community supports and help narrow that gap.

This is why we’ve partnered with TPL. In its six years of existence, TPL has been an enormous source of support for Canadian soldiers, veterans and their families. Specifically, the Salaam-TPL fund will support the needs of military children, including children with special needs, tutoring for military children struggling at school, and such community programs as youth drop-in centres and camps.

Since we launched our fund-raising drive, we’ve heard from many successful members of the Muslim community — and they share our sentiments. The Salaam-TPL fund is acting as a catalyst to encourage our fellow Muslims to support broader Canadian causes.

The fund also provides the Muslim community with the opportunity to demonstrate their pride of, and support for, Canada’s military families and veterans. Such donations, from successful Muslim-Canadian business leaders to Canadian charities like this, signal to our fellow citizens that we are enthusiastic and vociferous supporters of the democratic and diverse ideals that Canada represents, and those who defend them at home and abroad. Fellow Muslims, please hear our challenge and give what you can.

Uploaded this post on Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mansion auction in Mississauga could be a steal for buyer

Chris Clay
Posted: Jan 27, 2016

Got a few million bucks just lying around, collecting dust?

For most of us, the answer to that question is a resounding no. However, for some, that extra cash could be converted into real estate, with a multi-million dollar home on Mississauga Road going to the highest bidder at auction this Sunday.


Ritchies Auctioneers will host the auction for 1945 Mississauga Road.

Back in January 2014, Ritchies auctioned off a custom-built 18,000-square-foot house on nearby Saxony Court, originally priced at $11 million, for $6.2 million.

Meanwhile, the house on Mississauga Road is valued at about $4.9 millionand the bidding is expected to start at less than $3 million. Depending on interest in the item, the house could potentially go for about half its value.

The 10,000 sq.-ft. home became available after its owner could no longer make the monthly mortgage payments.

"Opportunities like this are rare, but with unstable financial markets and other uncertainties, such as falling oil prices, we could see more home owners seeking auctions to sell off assets," said Ritchies Auctioneers managing director Kashif Khan.

So, what sort of amenities does the luxury home that overlooks the Mississaugua Golf and Country Club offer? It has five bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, while the master bedroom has a separate area with a fireplace to keep the owner warm on chilly winter nights.

For the foodies, there's a high-end kitchen with granite countertops and there's also a second kitchen in the finished basement. The rest of the house includes a sprawling rec room, a steam room and sauna as well as an in-ground pool in the backyard.

"The mansion is in a highly sought-after area of Mississauga," said realtor Sam McDadi. "It's a dream home that's now available at what I would consider a steal."

There's also an additional 200 items that will be auctioned off separately from the home on Sunday. Among said items is $2 million worth of diamonds, including a four-carat VS quality diamond, a number of luxury watches as well as a $180,000 Audemars Piguet and a Rolls Royce Phantom that sells for about $700,000 new.

There will be a public viewing on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the auction commencing at 2 p.m.

Uploaded this post on Sunday, November 27, 2016

Man 'embarrassed' after turning over diamonds to stranger

Maryam Shah
Posted: Monday, October 10, 2016 05:23 PM EDT

TORONTO - Philipp keeps repeating himself: “I feel embarrassed.”
“I’m totally embarrassed.”
“I’m completely embarrassed.”
The 61-year-old shared his tale with the Sun a few days after he gave his collection of loose coloured diamonds to a stranger in exchange for an allegedly fraudulent US$715,000 certified cheque.
“In hindsight, I’m completely embarrassed that I did this transaction without getting more info,” Philipp said.
He said a man called him out of the blue claiming he found Philipp’s number on a “diamond exchange.” The stranger offered up a wealthy buyer — a “doctor” — for the diamonds, valued at around $1 million and which Philipp had invested in over the past five years.
“It’s easy to buy diamonds, it’s very hard to sell them to somebody legitimate,” said Philipp, who asked his last name not be used.
The price was good — enough to render Philipp debt-free.
“That’s basically what they used to get me down there and throw all caution in the wind to do this transaction,” he explained.
“In hindsight, I realize that some of this is ridiculous.”
He was told to meet the “doctor” Thursday afternoon at a hospital. However, Philipp wanted a bank to verify the cheque.
But one thing led to another — an emergency operation, a change in meeting places — before Philipp landed at a Tim Hortons in North York.
“He showed me the cheque and it seemed to be fine and I handed him over my portfolio,” Philipp said.
But the bank had closed.
When Philipp went the next morning, he received gut-wrenching news: The cheque was fraudulent.
Toronto Police released grainy suspect images on Friday. Philipp hopes someone will recognize him.
“He was obviously very flustered when he first came” to police, Det.-Const. Jennifer Rae recalled of Philipp.
“He’s going to go into denial, then he’s going to go into self-deprecation, which he’s probably doing now — ‘Why didn’t I see all this stuff,’” Rae said.
The suspect is described as clean-shaven, 45 to 50 years old, 5-foot-10 with short dark hair, and wearing what is believed to be an olive-coloured kippa.
Kashif Khan, from Ritchies Auctions, said scammers “know who to target.”
“When someone’s been stuck with an investment for three years that they believe is dead, and all of a sudden they have somebody willing to pay them a profit, they jump on it,” he said.  
Uploaded this post on Sunday, November 27, 2016

Coloured diamonds an investor's best friend

Jen Zoratti
Posted: 08/27/2016 4:00 AM

Now, US$1.2 million isn’t a small amount of money, but it practically sounds like Monopoly money when you hear what some coloured diamonds are fetching at auction these days. Like the "Oppenheimer Blue," a 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond that sold for US$57.5 million at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in May. Or the "Orange," a 14.82-carat fancy vivid orange diamond that sold for US$35.5 million in 2013, also at a Christie’s auction.




BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Ritchies Auctioneers manager of estate contents Cameron Thomas, left, and Gurevich Fine Art owner Howard Gurevich.</p>


Ritchies Auctioneers manager of estate contents Cameron Thomas, left, and Gurevich Fine Art owner Howard Gurevich.

During the past few years, there have been many trend reports about coloured diamonds as investment opportunities — if you can afford them.

Coloured diamonds are attractive investments for a few reasons: they haven’t decreased in wholesale price since 1959, and they can increase in value 10 to 15 per cent each year. They are also incredibly rare: only 0.001 per cent of diamonds mined each year qualify as "fancy," and fewer still earn the distinction of "vivid", which is a highly saturated colour. (Fancy Vivid diamonds, such as the two that went for fortunes at Christie’s, are the rarest and most prized.)

Few mines on Earth produce coloured diamonds. Only one fancy blue diamond is mined per year; only 20 to 30 fancy reds are known to exist.

So, in other words, in order for diamonds to be investment pieces, they have to be, by definition, exceptional. Unless they are flawless, white diamonds are not usually exceptional.

Grandmother’s heirloom white diamond wedding ring, while priceless in sentimental value, is not an investment.

These are all facts I learned Thursday night at the Art of Buying Coloured Diamonds, a seminar and auction presented by Ritchies auctioneers, a Toronto-based house, and Gurevich Fine Art.

It was the first event of its kind in Winnipeg, designed to be a small sample auction — Ritchies auctions can have 200 to 300 people in attendance, as well as many telephone and absentee bidders — and informational evening.

"We wanted to try something new," says Howard Gurevich, owner of the Exchange District gallery.

I was curious about what kind of fancy people would attend a wine-and-chocolate fancy diamond auction in Winnipeg. Only 10 people or so were in attendance, not including the two police officers there to protect the jewel cases glittering with about $5 million worth of diamonds.

Jonty Friedman is a fine jewelry specialist at Ritchies. Coloured diamonds are something of a sub-specialty for him. He says although coloured diamonds are having a moment fashion-wise — especially in Asia — people are not buying these diamonds to be worn.

"A lot of these buyers are foreign buyers, investors. A coloured diamond buyer is more of an investor than a jewelry buyer. It’s funny, you’ll see these pieces go into rings, but that’s just a way of more or less storing it, rather than keeping a loose stone in a parcel or something."

Part of what’s driving demand for fancy coloured diamonds is scarcity.

The Argyle diamond mine, which is located in Australia and owned by Rio Tinto, produces 90 to 95 per cent of the world’s fancy pink diamonds. The mine is set to close in 2020, and Friedman says the value of certified Argyle fancy pinks is expected to soar after it closes. A fancy vivid pink, for example, could be worth US$3 million per carat by 2020.

Red diamonds are the rarest while yellow is the most common, making it attractive to entry-level investors who don’t have $50 million sitting around.

Friedman displays a seven-carat pale yellow diamond that would trade for US$10,000. The more intense the colour, the more money the diamond could fetch. He has another yellow diamond that is more saturated, but less sparkly (yes, these are technical terms). "You can see the inclusions, but it’ll still command stupid money. People are buying for the colour."

Diamonds, whether they are coloured or white, leave a lot of room for subjectivity in general, which is why appraisal is often described as an art, not strictly a science. Diamonds are evaluated by the four Cs — carat, clarity, colour and cut. With coloured diamonds, there are other variables, such as the rarity of the colour and the saturation of the hue.

Determining market value is also a challenge. After all, with coloured diamonds, it is possible to get a one-of-a-kind stone.

You don’t need to be a billionaire to invest in coloured diamonds, but you do need to know what you’re doing — and it probably helps if you’re at least a millionaire.

The value of a coloured diamond bought for a few thousand dollars, such as the ones on display Thursday night, will rise at the same rate, says Kashif Khan, the director of Ritchies.

The big diamonds are usually sold via auction, so, unlike other kinds of investments, there are taxes and commission fees to consider. Investment-grade diamonds must be certified by the Gemological Institute of America, which will encrypt a stone with a microscopic report number.

Because there were so few attendees Thursday, the seminar and auction didn’t happen as planned. A few serious buyers spoke to Khan, including a man with a rare jade ring that Khan estimates is worth $250,000. Apparently, this man is interested in going to the Ritchies office in Toronto to look at a red diamond.

Investing in coloured diamonds is not a practical alternative to, say, an RRSP for most people. So Thursday night was mostly about looking at spectacular jewels and hearing the stories: such as a client of Khan’s who bought a red diamond in the 1970s for $50,000 and later sold it for $1.5 million.

Or the Toronto businessman who bought a 10-carat fancy intense orange-pink diamond for $2.3 million. When Khan went to deliver his purchase — among the biggest in Canada — the businessman discovered he had a seven-carat blue diamond in his safe. Khan says the blue diamond was worth $28 million. (Imagine being that rich: "Oh, this old thing? It’s just a rare blue diamond I forgot I had!")

"One of my biggest mistakes actually got solved in Winnipeg," Khan says.

About six years ago, a man in Brazil contacted Khan and said he had a bunch of green diamonds.

There is no official coloured diamond mine in Brazil, but Khan went to check it out. "We were literally in the jungle," he says.

Khan was presented with three or four intensely coloured green diamonds. That’s rare; green diamonds occur because of radiation, which doesn’t penetrate the carbon the same way as nitrogen, which results in yellow diamonds, or boron, which results in blue diamonds.

Khan bought them on the spot. When he came back to Canada, he sent them to be cut — and found out they were white inside. Once cut, their value plummeted. "It was a $100,000 deal and they were maybe worth $10,000."

Khan’s story got out among industry insiders, and he received a call from a geologist in Winnipeg. The geologist didn’t care; he loved the idea of having an irradiated diamond that size. Khan ended up making money.

Sometimes, value is in the eye of the beholder.

"There isn’t another one," Khan says. "If you say, ‘I want a rough green diamond of this size,’ there isn’t another one."

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Kash Khan on BNN

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Kash Khan On Breakfast Television Promoting a Ritchies Watch Auction

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Kash Khan on Breakfast Television Promoting Ritchies Auction

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Kash Khan On The Toronto Sun Network

By Jenny Yuen on The Toronto Son

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Kash Khan on CTV News


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Revived Ritchies hopes to sparkle with giant gem

By James Adams

It’s a tainted brand in the Canadian auction world – but a new Toronto-based Ritchies is hoping a live sale of jewellery next month can restore the lustre of the name. Included in the Nov. 13 sale is a 50-carat diamond, consigned by a European hotelier and appraised at more than $10-million.

Kashif Khan and his partner Ravi Poddar announced their purchase of the Ritchies name at a news conference Wednesday for an unspecified amount from the trustee in bankruptcy for the former auction house.

“I think Canada needs a proper auction house that is upscale, world-class. We have the right market. People internationally look to Canada now,” said Mr. Khan, managing director of the company now called Ritchies Auctioneers.

A recent lawsuit suggests that Messrs. Khan and Poddar have a knack for finding names with clout: New York.-based jewellery buyer CIRCA INC. took issue with the branding of their jewellery auctioneering firm, Circa Auctions.

While Mr. Khan acknowledged that “a lot of bad stuff” surrounded the collapse of the old Ritchies in late 2009, “what I like about Ritchies is all the great stuff they did,” he said. “[It was]a great Canadian company known internationally.”

Established in 1967 by David Ritchie and his wife Marlene, Ritchies was sold when the couple divorced in 1994 to Ira Hopmeyer and Gerry Jennings. Mr. Hopmeyer was Ritchies chairman and CEO when Sotheby’s Canada ended an eight-year association in 2009 after Ritchies failed to meet a deadline to pay consignors. A few months later, as dozens of customers went unpaid and staff were let go or resigned, Ritchies’ landlord pushed them into bankruptcy for non-payment of rent. A $3-million suit filed last year by Sotheby’s against several Ritchies executives and associates, including Mr. Hopmeyer, who now lives in Florida, remains active.

“Our job now is to do the good stuff again,” Mr. Khan said. “If we do it right, if we work hard, work harder than anyone else, we’ll get it right.”

Starting in 2009, the Mr. Khan and Mr. Poddar were partners in Circa Auctions. Last October in Toronto, Circa sold a pink diamond for $2.3-million, reportedly a Canadian record for jewellery at auction.

A few weeks after that sale, prominent jewellery buyer CIRCA INC. filed suit in the Federal Court of Canada against Mr. Khan and his associates, claiming Circa was “passing off its [CIRCA’s]good and services under the trademark Circa and taking advantage of CIRCA INC.’s valuable trademark rights, reputation and goodwill and causing confusion.”

CIRCA announced Wednesday afternoon that it had signed a settlement with Mr. Khan and his associates – the result of an agreement “worked out earlier this month,” according to counsel for CIRCA. In a statement, CIRCA chair and CEO Chris Del Gatto said that while “certain aspects of the settlement agreement are still in progress, we are very pleased with the outcome and status to date.”

Before the settlement announcement, Mr. Khan indicated he and his partners intended to dissolve Circa Auctions. “It’s strictly Ritchies from now on ... Circa’s not going to operate any more at all.”

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Pink diamond fitting for a princess

Tanya Enberg - Toronto Sun

If diamonds are a girl's best friend, then pretty pink ones are definitely upping the fairy tale ante.

Shimmery princess tiaras have nothing on the largest - and exceptionally rare - pink diamond available in Canada, revealed Tuesday at the Pink Suite of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto.

While most pink diamonds weigh in under three carats, this spectacular conflict-free find discovered in the Argyle mines of Australia is an impressive 10.11 carats, making it one of the most valuable collectibles in the country.

And, if you happen to have some spare cash to spend, it's soon to be auctioned off.

While natural pink diamonds can be found at jewelry boutiques across Canada, they remain less common than their lovely white counterparts, which may be why they're so sought after by Hollywood starlets and royalty.

Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez with a six-carat pink diamond ring and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Victoria Beckham and Portia de Rossi all have pink diamond engagement rings.

Meanwhile, Clare Danes was recently spotted wearing a pink diamond and Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Nicole Kidman have all donned this ladylike bling at past red-carpet events.

"I definitely think celebrities are always looking for something rare and something unique, and among diamonds, pink diamonds are exactly that," explains Duncan Parker, president of the Canadian Gemmological Association.

"And while pink diamonds have always been a favourite of royalty and connoisseurs for hundreds of years, I think they really came into our consciousness when Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez with one. Today scores of celebrities have pink diamond engagement rings - even the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. But I do want to mention that none of these women have a stone as large as the one we are auctioning here."

For the majority of non-celebrity diamond seekers, price will play a significant role in choosing a diamond.

"Like a traditional white diamond, you certainly want to look at the weight, the carat size," Parker says.

"Pink diamonds can be more expensive per carat. In fact, a recent pink diamond went up for auction in Hong Kong and broke the world record for price per carat of any diamond."

Those with an affection for pink will also want consider the depth of the stone's colour.

"While traditional diamonds should be lacking in any colour, with pink diamonds, you want to look for colour intensity," Parker explains.

"The richness of the colour, how pink, and what kind of pink it is. In this case, we have an orangish-pink, in a remarkably intense hue for a stone this size."

On Sat. Oct 2, a public viewing of the diamond - with an estimated value of between $8 and $12 million - along with other spectacular gems, will be held at the Toronto Park Hyatt.

The pieces will then be auctioned to the public the following day at 1 p.m.

"Since this diamond has never been in private hands, the lucky bidder will not only get the stone, but also a small piece of history," observes Parker.

"Diamonds of this size are given a name, which stays with it for eternity ... the owner can select a lover's name, a family name or mark a specific occasion forever."

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Pink Diamond most expensive to be auctioned in Canada

By Tony Wong - Toronto Star

It’s pink and about the size of a Chiclet. But it’s going to cost some buyer millions of dollars.

The auction of an extremely rare pink diamond has caught the attention of global collectors, being billed as the most expensive diamond auctioned in Canada. The auction value of the diamond has been placed anywhere from $2.5 million to $3 million.

“It’s interesting to hold something so valuable and tiny in your hands, that in your whole lifetime you would never earn what this is worth,” says Duncan Parker, the president of the Canadian Gemological Association, who was holding the gem earlier. “This is really extraordinary stuff.”

Parker and Kashif Kahn, the chief operating officer of Toronto based Circa Auctions are holed up at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto on a Tuesday afternoon. The two are previewing the diamond, along with millions of dollars worth of other gemstones in advance of the auction at the hotel on Oct 3.

Outside two surly and armed security officers stand guard.

The theme today is clearly pink. The suite, designed by Sarah Richardson is pink. The tiny macaroons on the table are shocking Barbie pink.

The diamond itself is a pretty rose pink. Kahn cups it in the palm of his hand and hands it off to a reporter.

“Take a look, it’s really beautiful.”

It is. The gem has the intense glow that some collector will pay dearly for.

Pink diamonds have always been fashionable, but celebrity endorsement has made them even more desirable.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, France’s first lady, sports a pink diamond engagement ring. So does Posh Spice Victoria Beckham.

Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez with a six carat one.

In Hong Kong last December, the world record price per carat was set with the sale of a 5 carat $10.8 million pink diamond.

That diamond was appraised as internally flawless. The Toronto diamond is of lesser quality, down a few notches at Vs2, meaning it has very slight inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye.

The Hong Kong price meanwhile, broke the previous per carat record for a 7.03 carat blue diamond purchased by Hong Kong property baron Joseph Lau for $10.5 million.

“In times of economic uncertainty, diamonds have shared certain characteristics with gold,” says Ari Levy, portfolio manager and vice-president of TD Asset Management. “It is a store of value and a hedge against inflation that people turn to.”

The attention has been on the gold market as the precious metal hit a new record on Tuesday. But for some investors, diamonds have become the new gold.

The market took a hit during the recession last year, but is slowly bouncing back.

In what analysts see as a sign of recovery, Toronto based luxury retailer and miner Harry Winston, earned $16.5 million (U.S.) in the second quarter of 2010, compared with a second quarter loss of $24.5 million in the same quarter of 2009.

“Shortages in rough diamond supply coupled with the improving world economy sustained higher prices,” said the jeweler.

Analysts say the buyer for the pink diamond will likely come from Asia, or the Middle East. The sultan of Brunei is said to have the largest collection of pink diamonds. The diamonds are extremely rare and most, such as the Toronto stone come from the Argyle mine in Australia.

No one knows exactly what combination of conditions create pink diamonds, but the Argyle mine is slated to close in several years, which should make them even rarer, says gemologist Parker.

The current stone to be auctioned is owned by an unnamed Canadian dealer.

“The buyer could also come from Toronto, there are a lot of high net worth clients here,” says Kahn. “These are the people who are buying for the future, and are choosing perhaps between buying a Picasso, or a gemstone.”

In Canada, Kahn says the most expensive diamond auctioned so far has been in the $250,000 range. If this sells next week, it will almost certainly be a record.

While the auction value is in the $2.5 million to $3 million range, auctioneers expect that ceiling to be broken. The stone has been appraised with a retail value (if you had bought it in a store, and not wholesale) of between $8 to $12 million.

Analysts say retail jewelry isn’t necessarily the best place to store your wealth. A diamond bought in a jewelry store could be worth considerably less once you walk out the door. But Kahn says coloured gemstones because of their exceeding rarity are an exception.

This is Kahn’s first auction in his home town despite being in business for 10 years, and holding sales in New York, London and China.

“It is a bit of a risk. But we wanted to bring it home. We have a great deal of diversity in Canada, and with online bidding, you can be anywhere today,” he says.

The purchase also includes “full naming rights” to the diamond.

“You could name it after yourself, like the Hope diamond,” says Kahn.

The most likely fate for the diamond will be that it will end up in a safe somewhere after it is purchased, says Kahn.

“That’s what usually happens. But I hope someone gets to wear it and enjoy it. It really is special.”


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For $12 million, you can name this pink diamond after yourself

By Carley Fortune

After the joy of rolling around in a pile of $100 bills wore off, we started wondering what to do with our millions—extreme wealth can be so tiresome. That’s why we were thrilled to find out that Canada’s largest pink diamond will be auctioned off next month in Toronto. It’s expected to fetch between $8 and $12 million, but here’s why that’s a steal:

1. It’s 10.11 carats, which is so big that if we put it on a ring, we could use it for working out.
2. It’s super rare. Most pink diamonds are under three carats.
3. It’s bigger than the pink diamond ring Ben Affleck gave Jennifer Lopez. That one was a measly six carats.
4. The buyer has naming rights (à la the Hope Diamond), as is tradition when a humongous pink diamond is first purchased.

Convincing, right? Hosted by Circa Auctions, the bidding will take place at the Park Hyatt in Yorkville on October 3, along with a host of other jewellery.

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By the numbers: Shine on, you $10-million diamond

By Emily Innes

The largest diamond to ever to be sold in Canada will be auctioned off — as will other rare pieces of jewellery — on Nov. 13 at the Royal Ontario Museum. The sale marks the return to business of Ritchies Auctioneers, which ran into financial troubles two years ago but is back under new owners. National Post’s Emily Innes had a chance to view the centrepiece of the new catalogue and offers her insight, one number at a time.

50.24: Number of carats of the “important loose diamond.” That is a somewhat less glamourous title than the Hope Diamond or the Great Star of Africa, but the large round stone is a sight to behold. The typical wedding ring diamond is about a half to one carat.

58: Number of sides the diamond sports, a common number for round diamonds to reflect the ideal amount of light.

10: Price, in millions of dollars, at which the diamond has been appraised. Not that it is likely to sell for that much. The Belgian hotelier to whom the diamond belongs is reportedly in a hurry to cash in, and Kashaf Khan, managing director of Ritchies Auctioneers, thinks $4- to 4.5-million is a reasonable estimate of the eventual auction price.

23: Width of the diamond, in millimetres, or about 3 mm less than a loonie. That makes it a bit unwieldy for the average ring finger.

164: Number of items up for sale in the auction. It is also the lot number for the 50-carat diamond. As the adage goes: save the best for last.

150: Number of people expected to attend the auction, though some bids will come by phone, so the buyer could be from anywhere.

3: Number of police officers guarding the diamond, which was sitting in a locked glass case, during a visit Wednesday afternoon.

1: Number of years it took the auction house to acquire 164 pieces of “fine jewelry” from all over the world including Europe, Asia and North America.

20: Number of people Mr. Khan believes will bid on the diamond. However, he said, “It always comes down to two.”

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50-carat diamond sells for a song

By Alyshah Hasham

Lot 164, glittering in the flash of smartphone cameras, is a magpie’s dream. The 50-carat diamond is about the same size as a quarter, and worth an estimated $10 million.

But the diamond sold for $2.7 million ($3 million when commission is included) to a mysterious international buyer at an auction Sunday afternoon at the Royal Ontario Museum. It was expected to bring in around $4 million.

“For that diamond it is ridiculously low. But at the same time we just a set a new record in Canada. (No diamond) has been sold here for that price before,” said Kashif Khan, managing director of Ritchies Auctioneers.

The previous record-holding diamond was auctioned off for $2 million before commission, he said.

The auction included several smaller pieces of jewellery that couldn’t be sold to retailers because of the tough economy — making the prices a steal, Khan said. Even so, with sales of more than $5 million, Khan said this is the largest jewellery auction so far in Canada.

The auction centrepiece — the rare, round diamond — is mired in mystery. It formerly belonged to a Belgian hotelier and has likely spent the past 10 years in a safe. The origins of the diamond are also uncertain — it could have come from South Africa, according to Ritchies’ lead gemologist Helmut Koenig.

“You deserve one of these,” said Koenig to a woman in red who leaned carefully over the counter to study the rock on display at the public viewing before the auction.

A stern-faced emergency task force Toronto police officer stood to the left of the glass diamond case, assault rifle in hand, impassively taking in the hushed whispers.

“It’s spectacular,” said one woman, as others snapped photos.

“You don’t get to see this every day,” added another woman, a gemologist.

Khan said the diamond was auctioned off because the owner needed a quick sale, due to the rocky economic times in Europe.

As the auction built to a crescendo, a gold bar sold for $50,000 and a pink diamond ring went for $180,000.

The diamond sale will hopefully encourage more high-roller jewellery auctions to be held in Canada, Khan said.

Earlier this year, Khan bought the Ritchies’ name, reviving the auction house after it went bankrupt in 2009 leaving several angry creditors in its wake.

The prestige of this sale will restore faith in the brand, Khan said.

“This is a very important diamond. The whole (diamond) world’s eyes are on this piece.”

With files from Josh Rubin

Facts on gems

High-priced diamonds

Nov. 15, 2011

The Sun-drop diamond, with an estimated sale price of $11 million to $15 million is to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in Geneva Tuesday. The diamond is rare for its size — more than 100 carats — and top colour ranking of Fancy Vivid Yellow. The jewel is being sold by Cora International.

November, 2010

A rare pink diamond smashed the world record for a jewel at auction, selling for $46 million to a well-known gem dealer.

The 24.78-carat “fancy intense pink” diamond sold in Geneva for $46,158,674. The diamond was bought by London-based jeweller Laurence Graff.

December 2008

The previous record was also set by Graff, who paid $24,311,191 for the blue 35.56-carat Wittelsbach-Graff diamond and repolished it to a smaller size.

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Pink diamond worth $2.5M makes Canadian debut

The Canadian Press - CTV News

One of the world's largest pink diamonds, owned by a unnamed private collector, is making it's first appearance in Canada at the Birks jewellery store in downtown Edmonton.

EDMONTON - It's a rare rock the colour of bubble gum, and it costs a cool $2.5 million.

It's the shining star of a collection of 45 precious stones and jewelry pieces that is scheduled to move across the country -- unless it finds a buyer.

Birks spokeswoman Eva Hartling said several potential buyers have booked private appointments to see the pink ring before the trunk show closes in Edmonton on Tuesday.

She said the diamond is special.

"There are always different shades of pink that a diamond can have," she said. "What's special in this case is that, when you look inside the diamond, you have very specific purple and pink hues.

"So combined, that gives it a very special bubble gum colour."

Hartling said what makes the diamond even more rare is its size. The 10-carat gem was cut and polished from a rough 21.35-carat stone mined in South Africa. It's set in a platinum ring.

Most pink diamonds come from the Argyle mine in Australia, where a 12.76-carat rock was recently discovered. Hartling said once that pink diamond is cut, it will weigh in at about 7 or 8 carats.

Christie's auction house, one of the most well-known resellers of diamonds in the world, has only auctioned 18 polished pink diamonds over 10 carats in the past three centuries, said Hartling.

Two years ago, a pink diamond was sold by Circa Auctions in Toronto for $2.3 million, making it the priciest auctioned gem in Canadian history.

Pink diamonds may be most well-known for stirring the plot of the classic Pink Panther movies. Ben Affleck also proposed to Jennifer Lopez with a huge pink rock. Hartling said shortly after the celebrity couple's short-lived engagement, coloured engagement rings became a trend.

She added the bubble gum ring has never really been worn by its owner. It's a collector's piece, and she suspects any new buyer will add it to a collection as well.

"It would be somebody who really knows diamonds or somebody who wants to own something extra special," she said. "This is not the kind of ring you put on everyday to go to work."

That didn't stop curious customer Lori Menshik from halting her search for some new diamond earrings to try on the pink sparklie.

"That's gorgeous. Oh my God, look at how it sparkles. It's like a dance," Menshik swooned.

"Some girl's gonna get this one day."

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