By Clive Kandel
Sotheby’s London will be selling a collection of jewels formerly belonging to the Duchess of Windsor on November 30th.
This will be Round Two of an ongoing fight for those who desire to be associated with the ex-king and the woman who stole him from the hearts of his people.
There will be 20 lots in the sale, ranging from those of interest to royal memorabilia collectors to magnificent, well-known Cartier jewels.
The original sale took place during an era of public vulgar consumption and broke all records, and brought some financial and public disgrace. More about the public – and private – disgrace later on.
We shall soon see how 2010 values the Duchess’s jewels compared to 1987. That year seems like another age, which it really was. More about that as well later on.
Clive Kandel will be adding to this column as the days go by, so please do keep checking in.
Unlike the story of The Three Blind Mice, Clive Kandel feels quite unrestrained.
Round Two Begins by Leonore van der Waals
King Edward VII gave up the British Throne and country to marry the twice divorced American socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson in 1936, making them the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. After this the Duke lived for The Duchess of Windsor. He adored her and gave her jewels for every occasion in their life together. Most jewels are larger than life, according to Wallis’ friend Lady Mosley.
On 30 November 2010 Sotheby’s London will sell 20 jewels from the Duchess of Windsor’s jewellery collection. 23 years after the much celebrated Sotheby’s Geneva auction of her jewels in 1987. This auction was a global event in prosperous times and the 214-piece collection fetched a record price of EUR 35 million, seven times the pre-sale estimate. Reflecting the 1987 rage today’s estimates are also completely over the top but will surely be paid. The total sale is expected to bring in around EUR 3 million.
On sale now are jewels that memorialize the most important moments in Edward and Wallis’ relationship. Wallis was greatly admired for her avant-garde style in fashion and jewellery alike. She combined simplicity with whimsy.
Many of the jewels were made by Cartier, two specifically by Cartier’s jewellery director Jeanne Toussaint, the Onyx and diamond panther bracelet designed in 1952, is one of the finest examples of the ‘great cats’ jewels of which the Duchess was an avid collector. The bracelet is expected to fetch 1,000,000-1,500,000 pounds . This articulated cat forms a “stalking pose” when closed around the wrist.
Jeanne Toussaint also created this exotic flamingo brooch, decorated with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, citrines, and diamonds which was bought by the Duchess in 1940. The flamingo brooch was bought for £498,000 in 1987 and is today estimated at £1m-£1.5m.
Another precious jewel is the diamond cross bracelet by Cartier, supporting nine gem-set Latin crosses, each marking significant events during the years 1934-44. The bracelet is expected to raise £350,000-450,000, while it fetched only £200.000 in 1987.
It is a very sweet; every cross has an inscription and a story to it, but not everyone believes Wallis & Edward were the greatest love story of the 20th century.
Sotheby’s David Bennett and historian Hugo Vickers, however, make a splendid presentation below.
Images Courtesy Sotheby’s Images