Sotheby’s Duchess of Windsor 2010 sale results: the Panther is king
The sale of jewels and precious objects formerly in the
possession of the
Duchess of Windsor at Sotheby's was held in London raising just
a whisker under £8 million. The top price of the 20 lots was
£4,521,250 for the 1952 Cartier panther bracelet set with diamonds
and onyx that set record prices for Cartier jewels and bracelet at
auction. Watch the video. All the objects that included dress sets
of buttons, medals and cigarette cases, attained their top pre-sale
estimate but the Panther Bracelet stood out as the star of the
show. It set new auction records for Cartier at auction as well as
a new top price for a bracelet at auction. Bidding for the ruby,
sapphire, emerald, citrine and diamond Flamingo Brooch by Cartier
was less enthusiastic and the final price was £1,721,250, just over
the top pre-sale estimate of £1.5 million. According to Sotheby's
press office, the bracelet was bought by Collection Cartier.
Perhaps the most personal of the Duchess' jewels on sale was the
Cross Bracelet that sold for £601,250, squeeking past the pre-sale
estimate between £350,000 - £450,000. Each gem-set cross has an
inscription on the back that refers to intimate moments in the
couple's life. The highlight of the sale, which lasted little under
an hour, was the bidding for the Panther. When the auctioneer
reached £3 million, gasps were heard but it didn't take long for
the hammer to come down on the final price of over £4.5 million.
David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby's Europe and the Middle East
International Jewellery, describes the Duchess of Windsor's jewels
as the "most important collection put together in the 20th century.
Each one on its own is an important piece of jewellery and then
there is the provenance and of course the mythical love story."
With such allure surrounding these jewels, which were previously
auctioned in Geneva in 1987, it is not surprising that there were
high expectations in the first floor auction room at Sotheby's on
Bond Street. Such was the demand for these jewels at the 1987 sale
that the the initial pre-sale estimate of $7million was far
exceeded with a final total for the sale of $50million. As Malcolm
Forbes cannily said prior to the sale, "I think that anyone could
live very comfortably for the rest of their life on the difference
between Sotheby's estimates and what they actually sell for." His
words still ring true, but to a lesser extent on this occassion.
According to Nicholas Rayner who was the auctioneer and expert in
charge of the 1987 sale, Elizabeth Taylor bid by phone for the
Prince of Wales feather brooch in memory of Richard Burton, who was
Welsh. She was said to be sitting by her pool in Hollywood at the
time. No such glamorous vignettes to report from this sale, but I
wonder who bought that panther?