This weekend the press team managing this blog was kept very busy with the Annual Knights Meeting. Expect the report on that this coming Wednesday on our current events installment, What's Up Wednesday. This business around the Knights meeting has taken the place of our customary State Portrait on a Sunday but should resume as normal next weekend.
For today's Memory Monday I have selected a piece of more recent Royal History. Sporadic jewellery auctions take place among the wealthy of the world when and where sudden cash might be of an urgent necessity. In 2009 such an auction was arranged by Princess Augusta, the world renowned jewellery trader. The pieces that came on the market were from more than one source but the world famous D'Pont du Lac Sapphire Parure was the main drawing card and was to fetch a record high price. In 1993 the D'Pont du Lac Emeralds were bought by Empress Crystobel in a similar auction and those historic jewels were subsequently spared the fate of some other jewels destroyed in the 96 revolution. The emeralds were sold when their owner, the Dowager Baroness D'Rothchild needed to raise cash in order to alleviate vast medical expenses incurred by her brother's illness.
The 2009 auction saw the D'Pont du Lac Sapphires come on the market by virtue of an exstention of the same problem. Technically the jewellery were the property of the Dowager Baroness and she, refusing help from her wealthy son, stubbornly insisted on selling them to raise cash for her brother's family. She also prohibited him from buying them, saying: "...The past is the past, let it go. Make your own future..." is what the Baron D'Rothchild told the press.
Princess Augusta with the unprecedented historic jewellery collection up for auction.
Princess Augusta set up a special auction venue in the Grand Hotel in Swann City. Attendance was by special invitation only, whether for physical attendance or for phone bidding. The list of lots was released officially to the press one hour before the bidding started at 8:00 a.m. Attending bidders were; Gloria Van der Bilt, Count Nikolas Von Bismarck, the Duchess of Aragon, Michael Jenning and to oversee on behalf of the D'Rothchilds, the Baroness D'Rothchild. It wasn't known at the time but the Crown Prince Imperial was to be bidding through a broker by phone. It was however known that Prince Paul Karageorgevich was going to bid by phone as he was in the market for some jewellery to celebrate his first wedding anniversary. At 9:00 a.m. the bidding started with lot nr.1: Pearl Loop Necklace and Earrings from the collection of the Shahbanu of Perlistan. They went to Prince Paul Karageorgevich. Lot nr 2: Art Deco Tiara of unknown original provenance and owner remaining anonymous. It remained unsold and entered the stock for sale of Princess Augusta. Lot nr. 3: Ruby Loop Earrings from the collection of the Shahbahnou of Perlistan. Sold to an anonymous phone bidder later known to be the Crown Prince Imperial who gave it to his mother as a present. Lot nr. 4: A Yellow Topaz and Diamond Demi-Parure from the collection of Prince Felix Youssopoff. These sold after a slight bidding war between Michael Jennings and the Duchess of Aragon, to the Duchess. She has since sported the set on several occasions and also lent it to her daughter.
At left, lot 1 and 2. At right lot 3 and 4. In the center, the D'Pont du Lac Sapphires.
Lot nr. 5: The D'Pont du Lac Sapphire Parure caused a massive bidding war at first between several parties. As the bidders fell by the side only, Gloria Van der Bilt and the "anonymous" phone bidder remained. Gloria stopped bidding when the price exceeded the long term investment value. It then became clear that the bidder on the phone was buying for more than just investment value. He did because he was buying to add it to the Imperial Jewellery Collection, to be left to his descendants for he was the Crown Prince Imperial. Gloria left the auction empty handed. The Crown Prince Imperial was revealed to be the bidder the moment his new wife wore the sapphires for the first time in 2010 just over a year after the purchase.
From left, Gloria Van der Bilt, Count Nikolas Von Bismarck, the Duchess of Aragon, Princess Augusta, the Baroness D'Rothchild and Michael Jennings.
These auctions seem only to take place when the Royals or other wealthy clients wish to sell jewellery fast. Normally the sale is more the motivation than the purchase. When the purchase is the motivation however it is a private affair between jeweller and client. These transactions could involve the sale of an antique piece in the stock of the jeweller or the lengthy process of design and manufacture of an entirely new piece.