These two diamonds are linked to the 'Malabar Hill Murder' an excellent title, no doubt, for a detective story, but nevertheless a real crime with a colourful background with which readers of the British and Indian presses were regaled at the time.
In January 1925, it happened that one evening at an hour when the hanging gardens of Malabar Hill, one of the most grandest parts of Bombay, were crowded with people taking the air, an official of the Bombay Corporation was driving along the ridge of the hill, accompanied by a friend and a Muslim woman. Suddenly their car was attacked by another, full of armed men. The official was murdered and the other occupants badly injured. Four British officers passing by went to the aid of the victims, and a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, though thrice wounded, managed to detain one of the assailants who was later found to have 2000 rupees on him. The press reported that the evidence had disclosed that robbery was not the motive for the crime, thought to have been one of revenge or an attempt at abduction. The Times of London stated that the Bombay police were offering a reward of 10,000 rupees for information but at the same time added that 'it is feared however that the organization behind the gang is so powerful, wealthy and unscrupulous, that it would offer even greater inducements to remain silent'.
During an earlier case before the Bombay High Court it was revealed that the Muslim woman had been a dancing girl at the Court of Tukoji Rao III, Maharajah of Indore, one of the three great Maratha states in central India. Her name was Mumtaz Begum, and she had been one of the many concubines of the thirty-four-year-old Prince. He was captivated by her, but alas she did not return his feelings. While the entourage of the Maharajah was under way, the girl succeeded in jumping off his private train and escaping to Amritsar, thence to Bombay where she came under the protection of a rich merchant. It was agreed that the crime of Malabar Hill could not be ignored: Mumtaz Begum had recognized her assailants as an aide-de-camp of the Maharajah, a Captain of the Indore Infantry, a Sub-Inspector of the Indore Imperial Lancers and members of the Indore Mounted Police. The participation of the Maharajah in the crime was never made public but he was given the choice of either appearing at the following official inquiry or of abdicating in favour of his son. In the following year he chose the latter course.
While he was travelling in Switzerland after his abdication, the former Maharajah met Nancy Anne Miller, a rich young American from Seattle, Washington. Amid much publicity the couple were married in 1928, the bride having embraced the Hindu religion in preparation for her marriage. Among the jewels which she came to wear were two pear-shaped diamonds weighing 46.95 and 46.70 metric carats; after her divorce they were sold to Harry Winston. Mr Winston had the gems recut to 46.39 and 44.14 carats and shown in his famous exhibition called 'The Court of Jewels'. In 1935 he sold them to a client from Philadelphia, repurchasing them five years later and selling them to another client in New York. Then in 1976 Mr Winston bought the 'Indore Pears' yet again before selling them to a member of a royal family. Finally Christie's auctioned the diamonds in Geneva in November 1980.
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