Christie's sells French crown jewels in record jewelry auction
Christie's raised $150 million, the most ever for a jewelry auction, as it sold part of the French crown jewels and a Cartier bangle formerly owned by the Duchess of Windsor.
A brooch that Empress Eugenie had to leave behind as she fled France for the U.K. in 1870 with her husband, Napoleon III, fetched $2.3 million at an auction in Geneva last night. Christie's sold the tiger-shaped Cartier set for $3.2 million. Their former owners include the late duchess, Wallis Simpson, and soprano Sarah Brightman, who received them from her then- husband, Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Christie's also sold the 392.52-carat gem Blue Belle of Asia for $17 million, a record price for a sapphire. The royal theme continues today as competitor Sotheby's offers a diamond pendant that Britain's Queen Victoria gave her granddaughter and a pearl necklace that may have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte's first wife, Josephine de Beauharnais, and was owned later in the 1800s by the queen of Sweden and Norway.
Sotheby's sold a Patek Philippe pocketwatch yesterday for $24 million, the most ever paid for a timepiece in auction. That auction house set the previous jewelry auction record in a $141 million sale in May.