The Sleeping Lion is the largest freshwater pearl in the world. But with its unusual shape that resembles one of those wrinkly Star Wars creatures, it’s not particularly beautiful. It’s not even pretty for some. This doesn’t mean that its buyer, who acquired it last month at an auction in Hague, Netherlands for $374,000, will mind its unusual appearance. According to reports, this is the first time that the 2.7 inches pearl has been up for auction in about two centuries. But there is a lot of history behind this bizarre and very valuable pearl.
It was first discovered back in 1765 and most likely, it was formed in Chinese waters. According to the auction house that sold it, Venduehuis, a Chinese trader probably managed to get around a ban and exported this large pearl out of the country. The Dutch East Indies Company then sent it to Jakarta. The company’s accountant general, Hendrik Coenraad Sander, paid 4,500 British pounds to have it in his possession. That’s where it also got its name, because many people think it looks like a curled up lion that gets ready for sleep.
The fascinating story of the Sleeping Lion
Sleeping Lion pearl sold at auction in The Hague for $374,000 https://t.co/lToKOOMCLh
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 31, 2018
When Sander died in 1778, a Dutchman bought the pearl for an anonymous person. That person eventually turned out to be Russia’s Catherine the Great. It became part of her huge collection and when she died in 1796, the Sleeping Lion and many other valuable properties vanished.
It was then found at a family of shipowners in Danzig, Poland, a port city. The family of jewelers who eventually bought it from them returned the pearl to Amsterdam. It stayed there until the Amsterdam Pearl Society bought it in 1979. In 2009, the society discovered its fascinating name and value. They suddenly had the largest freshwater pearl in the world. Now, a lucky buyer has it and it remains to be seen what he will do with it.
Image source: pixabay