Thursday, April 23, 2015

$400 Million Dollar Heist, Lauren Bacall Auction & Jewels of Royal Provenance

Eerily similar to the plot line of the movie starring Jason Stratham, "The Bank Job"  in 2008, has come to life in a scenario in Hatton Garden a famed jewelry district in the UK that is the center of the its diamond trade and has 300 businesses and 55 shops selling jewelry.  During the UK BankHoliday weekend the jewel thief's went into the building via an elevator shaft and rendered their security system useless. Of the 600 safety deposit boxes 300 were raided. A majority of these boxes are owned by people in the jewelry business.They had used heavy cutting equipment to gain access. Thats right to 300 boxes~ ( although reports are now varying with the correct amount of boxes that were invaded)

Hatton Garden jewelry district in the UK
A gang we assume or expert burglars ( perhaps the Pink Panther Gang strikes again?) is responsible for this act. In the movie, the jewelry thieves had leased a vacant business space a few doors down from the bank. They had a weekend to dig into the bank and blow up thru the safe, using water, so that the sound f the blast couldnt be heard. This is a true story of an event that happened in the UK in 1971, with a large dash of fiction added. In the movie, none of the items or valuables were ever recorded. The robbers had a full 4 days to go through the safety deposit boxes.  No one has been able to enter and see if their items have been taken. Many of the jewelers that had boxes there were uninsured, and so far the loss is calculated at $400 Million dollars, but its difficult to say if we will ever know the full amount that was taken. After a heist of this size it s safe to conclude that the gems and other items have already been smuggled out of the UK.
A forensic investigator entering the building

An aerial view of Hatton Garden
 Lauren Bacall was one of the last screen legends. She had an incredible career a storybook marriage to one of Hollywood's leading men and a beautiful home in Manhattan ( with a great view of Central Park) that she had filled with the treasures of her many travels and of her life with Humphrey Bogart. Bonhams of New York held an auction with 750 of her items. She had an eclectic taste and had collected many unique items for her entire life. She was private with what the public knew about her, but friends close to her in her inner circle knew how much  She was a voracious appetite for art became friends with Henry Moore (she had many of his sculptures) and had amassed quite the collection of sculptures, paintings and bronze quite risque statues. Several of her paintings and sculptures art pieces garnered past the pre auction estimate price.

The legendary beauty at 19, she spoke with her chin close to her chest to stop from shaking when speaking her lines

Turquoise diamond and amethyst ring created by Jean Schlumberger 

Here jewelry collection was realtively small in comparison to other actresses whose jewels have been auctioned. Bonhams auctioned 32 lots of her jewelry, it was a white glove auction ( meaning all the lots were sold).  The turquoise amethysts and diamond ring created by jean Schlumberger was auctioned for $52,500, smashing its pre auction estimate of $8,000 – $12,000.  The total garnered from the sale of her jewels was $500,000. She enjoyed jewelry, bold color and fine craftsmanship and had often become friends with the designers who had created her pieces.

Such a great picture of Lauren wearing her 18k gold chain bracelets created by Jean Schlumberger, sold for a total of  $87,500

Elizabeth Gage Camel brooch made in 18k yellow gold enamel, cultured pearl and rose diamond sold for $23,750, much higher than the pre auction estimate of $7,000

Superb gemstone 18k hoop earrings by Jean Schlumber, attached from one side the have movement and sparkle~

Countess Kitty Schoenborn, Baroness De Rothschild

Beautiful jewels that were created decades ago by the great jewelry houses in Paris and New York created luxurious items for many royal houses. An incredible necklace with a fascinating provenance or pedigree is up on the auction block on April 21st. Pretty Kitty as she was known to her friends and family was born to an aristocratic family. She was born Catherine Wolff to a prominent in family in Philadelphia. Her second marriage to Baron De Rothschild in 1923 brought her a title and much notoriety as one of the worlds most stylish women.

Created by Cartier in 1923 and given to the baron De Rothschild new wife, Kitt, pre auction estimate $1.8 Million -$2.2 Million ( sold for $2.6 Million)
Speaking of royal lineage, a tiara that was owned by Mary the Duchess of Roxburghe is being auction by Sothebys on May 12th in Geneva. Not just one tiara but 3, after all, a lady with a title has many social obligations.

Her name might not sound familiar but she life was filled with titles, husbands and a fair amount of drama.  She was born Mary Evelyn Hungerford Crewe-Milnes (23 March 1915 – 2 July 2014). Her Godfather was King George V, she had carried Queen Elizabeths  train when he married prince George! She came from a colorful family and had married the 9th Duke of Roxburghe in 1935 at Westminster Abbey and divorced the Duke in 1953. A public scandal happened when her husband tried to evict her from their 100 room castle, Floors Castle for 6 weeks in 1953. He reportedly had turned off the electric, gas, water on her side of the estate in a bid to have her leave the house. A neighbor Lord Haig had supplied her with paraffin lamps, food and candles for 6 weeks.  After the 6 weeks she had left Floors Castle and traveled to London where their divorce was settled out of court due to his affair.

Floors Castle
The Duchesses 3 tiaras pre auction estimate $300,000 - $500,000 each

Mary Duchess of Roxburghe on her wedding day in 1935
When she passed away last year at the age of 99 she had left her estatethe grandson of her much older half-sister Lady Annabel Hungerford Crewe-Milnes. A big shock to everyone, especially to Bamber. Her great-nephew is now auctioning off 700 lots in order to restore the 16th century West Horsley Place that has been left untouched for decades and bring it back to its original glory. Sothebys London will be holding the auction on May 27th. Included in the auction are The massive estate was left to Mary from her mother Margaret Etrenne Hannah Crewe-Milnes when she had passed away at  aged 81 on 13 March 1967
                                                          Until next time, KEEP sparkling!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

"Princie Diamond Dispute, 100ct Diamond & The "Flagler Emerald"

 Time has arrived for some luscious gems and jewels to be auctioned. Every month brings new excitement for new items from varying estates to go up for auction.  On April 21st in New York, Sotheybys is having n auction on April 21st. The main attraction at this auction is a 100.01cts IF type IIIa emerald cut diamond, pre auction estimate is between $19 - $25 Million dollars. The original rough weighed 200 carats and the owner had spent a year studying and mapping the stone. A stone of this size and clarity and color may go higher than the pre auction estimate. Mr. Laurence Graff will you be attending? I could easily see this stone in his extensive collection~

100ct diamond in a ring setting, perfect!

 There's also a brooch that is from the estate of Mrs. Bunny Mellon. I had written about her extensive  auction that was held in November 2014 at Sothebys. She had a massive estate, with 5,000 auction lots that sold for a total of $218 Million dollars. $32 Million was the winning bid on a 9.75 fancy blue diamond, $3 Million a carat! Her vast fortune allowed her to purchase stunning gems and jewels. A remarkable example is a Kashmir blue sapphire and diamond brooch will make its debut this month on April 21st in New York. This remarkable brooch contains an impressive Kashmir sapphire, platinum, diamond and 18k gold created by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. The pre auction estimate is $750,000 - $1 Million dollars. But like the other lots that sold in her auction I can imagine that this brooch will go for a much higher price given the provenance of the sapphire and the hallmark~

 Graff is well known for their over the top sized stones and designs. Their newest addition is an interchangeable watch called " The Fascination" that features 152 carats of Graffs finest white diamonds.  It is the most expensive 3 jewels in 1 to date and was on display at Baselworld in Switzerland, now its going on tour worldwide~
A dreamy watch with a $40 Million dollar price tag, interchangeable with a pear shaped diamond ring

Drawing and creating "The Fascination" in wax
The versatile watch features a 38.13 pear shaped diamond D Flawless
 And speaking of Art Basel another news making items is on display.  Created by Aaron Shum Jewelers and Coronet Diamonds unveiled a $42 Million dollar Gibson guitar called the "Eden of Coronet" and is in the record books for Worlds Most Valuable Guitar at $2 Million dollars. This incredible guitar features 400 carats of diamonds and 1.6 kilograms of 18k gold.It took Coronets craftsman Peter Wu and 68 artists 700 man hours to complete the guitar. The guitar was on dislay at ArtBasel and is now expecting to go on tour through China and worldwide. It looks like a shiney expensive brooch, but must look incredible on stage~

 Diamonds, large and colorful are what Sothebys is known for. Happening next week in Hong Kong is Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale. Tow stones that bidders are anxiously awaiting are a 23.15cts IIa Golconda diamond called, "the Legend of Golconda" that is n antique cushion cut . Golconda is a mine in India that is known for producing some of the worlds finest diamonds. Pre sale estimate is $4.3 Million - $5 Million.With a beautiful diamond of this size and clarity its very possible the price could be much higher~

23.15cts antique cushion cut diamond, spectacular!

Another remarkable stone is a 77.77cts cushion cut fancy vivid yellow diamond. Incredible rich yellow and large size, this is sure to be a sale favorite. The pre sale estimate is $6.8 Million to $7.5 Million. Like with the other large stones in this sale, the rice on this yellow diamond could be much higher.
77.77cts fancy vivid yellow diamond

Large colored diamonds usually have an interesting past, and at times can be traced back several hundred years. "The Princie Diamond"is an incredible 34.65 fancy intense pink cushion cut diamond is at the center of a lawsuit filed by The heirs of the late Italian senator Renato Angiolillo are suing Christie’s, saying that the stone was stolen when it was sold when  it was auctioned for $39.3 million in 2013. At the time it was the most expensive jewel ever auctioned in the US and most expensive jewel sold by Christies. Its a confusing battle between family members as it is hard to prove who had custody and ownership of the stone. Prior to the auction the family was aware of the sale and had known who had ownership of the stone prior to the sale. The case will continue in New York courts as the family seeks either the return of the stone (highly unlikely) or market value of the diamond plus damages.
34.65cts fancy intense pink diamond
 "The prince Diamond has a royal origin. the stone was mined in the famous Golconda mined in India over 300 years ago. it had belonged to the royal family the (Nizams) of Hyderabad. The incredible pink diamond was given the name by the new owners Van Clef and Arpels in Paris 1960. The stone was named after the Mahrani of Baroda, Sita Devi, aka the Indian Wallis Simpson son. She had an extensive jewelry collection and in a world of women covering their heads, she would be seen at the Waldorf Astoria with her head uncovered wearing her bracelets and showing off her luscious jewels. Her young son, was affectionately called princie.

Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda wearing the Star of the South Diamond necklace, what large sized diamonds!
Her style and collection of jewels were legendary

Her life and jewelry were so incredible that I'll be dedicating an entry to her and her jewelry.

35.02cts Colombian emerald and diamond pendant the "Flagler Emerald"
 And there is a decadent piece of jewelry that has ties to our own local area. Henry Flagler is an American success story having founded Standard Oil in the 1870's and a man that we can contribute to building up of Palm Beach and bringing the rest of America to our warm and sunny shores.  Prior to marrying his last wife he was busy purchasing property up and down the coast of Florida and built beautiful hotels. He eventually built a railroad that traveled from Miami to Key West. At the time that he met his future wife Mary Lily Kenan he was an a older gentleman at the age of 61 and she was a young woman aged 23 from a prominent North Carolina family. At the time of their meeting hew as married to a woman named Alice who was slowly losing her mind. When Henry met Mary he was instantly besotted and they were engaged two days later. Her family wasnt sure of his intentions. But $1 Million in Standard Oil stocks and $1 Million in jewelry seemed to calm their nerves. I would like to think that this 35.02cts Colombian emerald and diamond pendant was one of the items that was givn to a young Mary as a pre wedding gift. It doesnt compare to the 100,000 square foot palatial home he built for her called Whitehall ( a favorite place to visit during the Holidays) here in Palm Beach.  The pre auction estimate for the pendant is $1 Million - $1.5 Million.

The 75 room, 100,000 sq ft home "Whitehall" built for newlywed Mary Lily
Mary Lily Kenan Flagler
                                                       Until next time, keep sparkling~