A royal label as that of Marie-Antoinette, a figure adored or cursed, had all the chances to arouse wild passions and igniting the auction. On Wednesday evening, the queen thrilled Geneva, the stronghold of the market for jewellery where Sotheby’s was scattering her jewels, which have done so much talk about them these last few weeks. Bidders from 43 countries (of which 55 % of online shoppers) were in this great historic appointment on the shores of lake Geneva.
around 22: 35, under the hammer of David Bennett, global head of jewellery at Sotheby’s, the last lot of the sale, the superb pendant of diamonds with a natural pearl of exceptional size, pear-shaped rose to 32 million swiss francs (hammer price, or $ 36.4 million swiss francs with fees, or 36.2 million). The battle was long and stretched between a bidder from the Middle East and another, a european, on the phone to get this record amount for a pearl. Finally it is the European who took her. The brooch was estimated to be between 1 and 2 million swiss francs (between 890.000 euros and 1.78 million euros).
The sale had started with a bang when the”auctioneer” has pronounced the magic name of Marie-Antoinette, to begin the auction. Among the other lots in the headlights, the beautiful earrings with pearls are parties to 447.000 swiss francs (with costs), against an estimate of 200,000 to 300,000 swiss francs, the necklace of fine pearls, the assessment of which does not exceed 70.000 swiss francs, 447.000 swiss francs, and one with three rows of 2.3 million swiss francs. The ring with the arms of the queen, “MA”, containing a few strands of her hair, which was estimated very modestly 8,000 to 10,000 swiss francs, is gone from the first minute to 447.000 swiss francs. It is a Russian buyer who wins.
The wife of Louis XVI had many diamond jewelry, including the gorgeous brooch dating from the late Eighteenth century, embellished with a beautiful yellow diamond. The node in the diamond belonged to Marie-Antoinette, the yellow diamond has been added later. Estimated between 50,000 and 80,000 dollars, he has grown to 2.1 million swiss francs (with costs).
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a few hours of the sale, the excitement had begun to mount. “We have a lot of orders to all units, which suggests that buyers from the Middle East and Asia could be in the game. The Chinese lover of kingdoms and empires, have obviously understood the magic history of these jewels, entrusted to the expert Magali Tesseire, director of the department of jewelry of Sotheby’s France. As always, the museums are not disclosed in order not to stir up the competition and cause prices to rise. A short sound: the museum of the Legion of honor would like to acquire the lot 87, the order of the Holy Spirit dismembered of its diamonds according to the will of Charles X, and raised on the tiara which is also in the sale.
Without the from Marie-Antoinette, such a price would never have been achieved. It must be said that this mythical pedigree had allowed Sotheby’s to make a big media hype. Auctioned at the end of the catalogue to keep the room in suspense until the end, the ten pieces had been on a world tour, from Hong Kong to Dubai, via New York, London, Singapore, Taipei, and finally Geneva. For a question of timing, the Charpentier gallery, being fully occupied with the sale of the homes of Pierre Bergé in the course of October, Paris had been deprived of seeing these jewels. It was to make little case of France, land of kings and queens where these jewels would have deserved to come back, to go to the Louvre or to Versailles, to the house where Mary Antoinette up to his flight, missed the 20 and 21 jun 1791 in Varenne, with Louis XVI and his family. Before his departure, she had sent her jewels to Brussels, and then they had been sent to relatives in Austria, her country of origin.
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Arrested at Varennes, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were guillotined in October 1793, and their son Louis XVII died in captivity. One survivor of the French Revolution, their daughter, Marie-Thérèse of France, was released in December 1795. On his arrival at Vienna, the emperor of Austria presented him with the jewelry of his mother, treasured. Without a child, she bequeathed one part to his niece and adopted daughter Louise of France, Duchess of Parma, and granddaughter of king Charles X, who in turn, passed it on to his son, Robert I, the last Duke of Parma reign. Like all the other lots in the sale, those of Marie-Antoinette come from all branches of the family scattered in Europe. Sold to Geneva, they do not fall under the scope of the preemption, a weapon whose use will the French museums, with usually a rating of “national treasure”, which prevents the room from out of the territory, and deprive it of international auctions.
as a defender of the national heritage, the presenter of radio and television Stéphane Bern had sounded the alarm in mid-October, responding to the sale of Sotheby’s on his twitter account. Before starting the debate on BFMTV: “And if the Louvre museum and the ministry of Culture were to be back in France this historical heritage?”. “Certainly, this is a good idea, but it is necessary to act, had immediately retorted, Pierre-Jean Chalençon, the collector, well-known souvenir napoléonien become the star of the show “Deal” on France 2.
This passionate fire and flame that exposes its treasures empire in Shanghai in the Himlayas museum has launched a prize pool which will end on 31 December 2018, in order to raise funds for the acquisition of a part of the famous jewelry. “Please, it is not enough just to say that you like”, he launched on his account Facebook, it is also necessary to participate to the height of your means. So go ahead and click”. Taking advantage of his popularity, he pushed on with a rant: “What wrecked our heritage! If the French State does nothing, I’m ready to leave my country and to offer my collection when I’ll decide”. He was behind her phone tonight to try to acquire a batch, or more. We know its reactivity, which often turns out to be impulsive. It may be good this time!
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