Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s to auction Art Deco jewelry from the Estate of Huguette M. Clark

Christie’s announce the sale of an exceptional collection of jewelry from the Estate of Huguette M. Clark, one of the last great heiresses of America’s Gilded Age. Ms. Clark’s jewelry collection, which is believed to have been stored in a bank vault since the 1940s, includes signed Art Deco jewels by Cartier, Dreicer & Co., and Tiffany & Co., including an extremely rare 9-carat pink diamond ring and a superb 20-carat D-color diamond ring. The complete collection of 17 jewels is expected to fetch $9 – 12 million at auction on April 17 at Christie’s New York.

Diamond, Ruby and Sapphire American Flag Brooch, By Cartier. Est: $30,000-50,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2012

“In the world of fine jewelry, this is truly a fairytale collection,” said Rahul Kadakia, Head of Jewelry for Christie’s Americas. “Opening the vault to find this treasure trove of period jewels from the best French houses of the early 1900s has certainly been one of the most extraordinary moments of my 15-year career here at Christie’s. The iconic Art Deco design and exceptional craftsmanship of these meticulously preserved jewels are emblematic of the great Gilded Age in American history. We are proud to present this collection from one of the nation’s most storied families as the major highlight of our flagship jewelry auction this spring.”

The collection’s remarkable provenance coupled with the exceptional craftsmanship and rarity of the jewels is sure to inspire intense interest from collectors and dealers around the globe. The star of the collection is a cushion-cut fancy vivid purplish pink diamond of 9.00 carats, mounted in a Belle Époque setting by the French jeweler Dreicer & Co. (estimate: $6 – 8 million). Based on the date of the stone’s setting – circa 1910 – the ring is believed to have originally belonged to Ms. Clark’s mother, the former Anna Eugenia La Chapelle, and was handed down to Huguette.

Prices for top-quality pink diamonds of this size and quality have increased exponentially in recent years, driven by both collector demand and increasingly limited supply. Pink diamonds gain their highly desirable color as a result of a rare, naturally-occurring slippage of the crystal lattice in the stone while it is forming deep within the earth’s crust. Only a few mines in the world produce pink diamonds, and of the stones that are cut and polished, only one in about 10 million diamonds will possess a color pure enough to be graded as “fancy vivid”. In December 2009, Christie’s Hong Kong offered for sale the 5-carat Vivid Pink diamond, which achieved a world auction record price of US$2.1 million per carat, amounting to US$10.8 million for the diamond.

Huguette Clark’s collection also features an exceptional colorless diamond ring of 19.86 carats, by Cartier (estimate: $2 –3 million). Certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as D color – the best color grade possible in a white diamond – and with potentially internally flawless clarity, this superb stone was discovered in its original Cartier box from the 1920s. As was fitting for a society debutante of the day, Huguette Clark’s collection also included a stunning array of signed jewels by the finest makers of the Art Deco era, including an intricately-detailed diamond bracelet by Cartier circa 1925 (estimate: $300,000-500,000), a diamond and multi-gem charm bracelet by Cartier, also circa 1925 (estimate: $20,000-30,000), and a ruby, sapphire, emerald and gold bracelet possibly designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, of Tiffany & Co. circa 1915 (estimate: $30,000-50,000). Among the more touching personal items in the collection is an onyx, turquoise and diamond photograph frame by Cartier which is personalized with a stylized “A”. The frame bears a hand-drawn portrait of a teen-aged girl believed to be Andrée Clark, Huguette’s older sister, who died of meningitis in 1919 (estimate: $5,000-7,000; image not to be sold with frame).

Born in Paris in 1906, Huguette Clark was the seventh and youngest child of Gilded Age industrialist William A. Clark, who at the time was one of the richest men in America, with a fortune said to have rivaled that of the Rockefellers. His wealth came first from copper mining in Montana, where he became a Senator, and later grew into a diversified business empire that included railroad, banking, publishing, sugar and timber companies. Her mother, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle, an accomplished musician, was Clark’s second wife.

Huguette and her sister Andrée were raised in New York’s high society circles and attended Miss Spence’s School for Girls. Huguette inherited her parents’ love for fine art and music, and as an adult, she became an accomplished artist and musician in her own right. Photos from the 1920s depict the young debutante attired in the latest fashions and Art Deco-era jewels, often wearing the Tiffany & Co. strand of pearls around her neck. In 1929, the Corcoran Gallery hosted an exhibition of seven of her paintings, which were well-received by critics.

After her father’s death in 1925, Ms. Clark and her mother moved from the family’s Beaux-Arts mansion in Manhattan to a limestone-clad, Italian palazzo-style residence at 907 Fifth Ave, where they maintained three apartments on the building’s 8th and 12th floors overlooking Central Park. Christie’s International Real Estate, in partnership with their exclusive affiliate Brown Harris Stevens, recently announced that these three historic properties are officially on the market.

After her mother’s death in 1963, Huguette Clark lived on quietly in New York, shunning the spotlight and focusing on her art. She died in May 2011 at the age of 104, with a fortune estimated in the hundreds of millions and with no direct descendants. As part of the ongoing settlement of the Clark estate, her jewelry collection and real estate are being offered at auction by the Honorable Ethel J. Griffin, New York County Public Administrator, by the authority given her under Temporary Letters of Administration issued by the Surrogate’s Court of the State of New York, County of New York.

Prior to the auction on April 17, Christie’s International has arranged public exhibitions of the collection at its sales sites in Hong Kong, Geneva and London during the month of March. A three-day public exhibition will open Saturday, April 14 at Christie’s New York.

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