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Swiss Auction Raises Charity Money

November 16, 2000

GENEVA (AP) _ A collection of jewels belonging to the late Begum Aga Khan, wife of one of the world’s richest men, were auctioned for more than $4.5 million in a sale intended to raise money to help fight poverty and illiteracy.

When she died last July, she left her estate, including most of her jewels, to be sold and donated to the Aga Khan Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps combat poverty, illiteracy and illness in Africa, India, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Sotheby’s auction house said all 19 lots offered were sold Wednesday for a total of $4,559,553.

``The late Begum was a lady of exceptional beauty and elegance, which was so perfectly mirrored in her exquisite jewels,″ said auctioneer David Bennett, Sotheby’s co-chairman for international jewelry.

Born Yvette Blanche Labrousse in 1906 and a former Miss France, the late Begum Aga Khan was the fourth and last wife of the late Aga Khan III, one of the world’s richest men and the grandfather of the present Aga Khan, head of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

The showcase lot, an enormous 51.85-carat white diamond ring designed by American jeweler Harry Winston, fetched $2.7 million. A 1960s French diamond necklace, set with 150 marquise and pear-shaped diamonds, along with diamond pendant earclips, together, brought more than $1 million.

Begum Aga Khan’s stepson, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, was present at the sale, along with the present Aga Khan’s brother, Prince Amyn Aga Kahn.

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan’s Bellerive Foundation, established to protect the environment, will also benefit from the bequest.

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