LONDON — Bidders from around the world scrambled for pieces of royal history Tuesday as Princess Margaret's jewels went under the hammer at Christie's in St. James'.
But the overall total in the first day of the two-day sale failed to break records, hitting less than 9.6 million pounds, or $17.6 million at current exchange. This was far below the 31 million pounds brought in overall at the sale of the Duchess of Windsor's jewels in Geneva in 1987.
And the highest bid wasn't even for a piece of jewelry, but for a Fabergé clock that went for just more than 1.2 million pounds, or $2.2 million. The much-touted Paltimore tiara, which the princess wore on the day of her marriage to Tony Armstrong-Jones, was the last lot and went for 926,400 pounds, or $1.7 million.
Other lots did better. A pearl and ruby necklace that Margaret wore as a two-year-old started at 500 pounds, or $915, and sold for 23,000 pounds, or $42,000, while a miniscule ruby bar brooch started at 400 pounds, or $732, and sold for 24,000 pounds, or $44,000.
The aquamarine and diamond brooch the princess wore for her first public appearance at Clarence House with newborn son David Linley carried an estimate of 3,500 pounds, or $6,400 — and sold for 55,000 pounds, or $101,000.
"It is unbelievable that the public can buy into this heritage," said one London-based bidder who blew his 100,000-pound, or $183,000, budget in the first hour — on the Art Deco sapphire and diamond bow brooch and the striped enamel tiger bangle and ring, thought to have been a gift to Margaret from Peter Sellers.
Colin Tennant, an old friend of Princess Margaret's, wasn't thinking about the jewels as an investment, however.
"It's the end of an era, and it's what they call closure," he said, minutes before the auction began. "This moment makes me think of that line from 'The Tempest': 'This insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind.'"
Tuesday's sale featured jewelry and Princess Margaret's collection of Fabergé. Today Christie's will auction furniture, paintings and works of art from the princess' collection.The princess' children and heirs, Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, are selling a treasure trove of their mother's belongings in order to pay off the 40 percent inheritance tax on the estate, which has been estimated at 7.9 million pounds, or $14.5 million.
Neither Linley nor Chatto was present at the sale Tuesday, which took place in the three first-floor sales rooms at Christie's. However, both siblings had representatives watching the auction.
Royal jewelry expert Leslie Field, who had spent months writing the catalogue and gathering pictures of the princess wearing the jewelry, said she was pleased at the bidders' enthusiasm. "What a wonderful tribute to the princess' memory," said Field.
The audience was a mix of young and old, the ultracoiffed and the scruffy. It included the princess' old friends designer Jasper Conran, Ned Ryan, Ben Holland-Martin and Jane Stevens, a former lady-in-waiting.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty