If you’ve ever attended the auction of a personal collection of jewelry, you know these events are surrounded with a certain mystique and sense of excitement. While you can any special piece of jewelry for its own uniqueness, adding the story of its famous owner seems to add more sparkle to any jewel.
Over the years, the world’s leading auction houses have been called upon to dispose of the jewels from estates of many rich and famous individuals and families. Listed below are 10 of the most expensive personal collections ever presented for auction.
10. The Jewels of Thurn und Taxis
Crowned the Punk Princess and Princess TVT by the media of the 1980s, Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis earned quite the reputation for her odd hair styles and wild partying. When her German aristocrat husband died in 1990, she placed many of her more valuable possessions up for sale to pay taxes and debts. The sale netted more than $20 million and included:
- A diamond tiara originally commissioned by Napoleon III which sold for $649, 537 and was placed in the Louvre
- A Golden Fleece bracelet from the 18th century
- A magnificent emerald and diamond brooch worth three-quarters of a million dollars
9. Mrs. Charles Wrightsman’s Collection
A friend of Jackie Onassis, Mrs. Wrightsman’s jewels brought more than $15 million at auction, including a natural pearl and diamond piece selling for just over $2 million.
8. Select Items from Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowden
Royalty has always collected jewelry, and Princess Margaret acquired some stunning pieces, including the Queen Mary’s Diamond Riviere, which sold for more than $1.8 million of the total $17.6 million total.
7. Items from Ellen Barkin
A bride who gave up Hollywood to marry Ron Perleman, Ms. Barkin disposed of more than $20 million of fine jewels, with a primary interest in rare and specially cut diamonds.
6. Princess Salimah Aga Khan Collection
The name Aga Khan was already legendary before the divorce of the Princess and His Highness. Nearly $28 million dollars was collected by Christie’s in 1995, including $7.8 million for the Begum Blue necklace alone.
5. The Collection of the Countess du Boisrouvray
Sotheby’s rang up just over $32 million in 1989 for the jewels from this member of royalty, which was at the time an auction record for a sale from a single owner. A highlight of the sale was the 32.08 carat Burmese Ruby and diamond ring.
4. The Royal House Jewels
In 2006 Christie’s sold the Gulf Pearl Parure by Harry Winston for $4.1 million as part of 317 lots of jewels from a royal house that remained anonymous.
3. The Charity Auction: Mrs. Lily Safra
A total of $37.9 million was raised for 32 charities when Christie’s sold these70 lots in 2012. The JAR collection of 18 jewels attracted heated bidding and brought in $11.4 million dollars for the one lot.
2. Royalty and Legend: The Collection of the Duchess of Windsor
Sotheby’s was chosen to dispose of the jewels of the legendary royal couple of the early 20th century. With many stunning pieces, the heart-shaped anniversary pin by Cartier was one of the emotional highlights. A Cartier necklace sold for $2.6 million.
1. The Elizabeth Taylor Collection
In 2011, the world was abuzz over the stunning collection of jewels, with numerous spectacular diamonds, from Elizabeth Taylor. Christie’s broke all record with an amazing total fo $137.2 million for just the jewels from Ms. Taylor’s estate. The famous 16th century La Peregrina necklace alone brought in $11.8 million.
It will likely be sometime before you will have the opportunity to view any other auction of such magnitude.