Sotheby’s continues its appeal to jewelry fans bored under coronavirus lockdowns. The company this week marked the highest price ever paid for a piece of jewelry via online auction.
A Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet — an iconic Art Deco design comprised of sapphires, diamonds, emeralds and rubies — sold for $1.34 million on Tuesday. This far exceeded the bracelet’s original estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.
In addition to being the most expensive piece of jewelry ever sold in an online auction, this particular Tutti Fruitti is also the highest price paid for jewelry at auction in 2020. Sotheby’s said it is the second-highest price paid online for any work offered through the auction house, following the 2019 sale of Friedrich von Hayek’s 1974 Nobel Peace Prize in economics, which went for $1.5 million.
Sotheby’s has now achieved a total of $7.4 million in online jewelry sales in 2020, surpassing its original estimate of $4.7 million to $6.5 million — a good omen for the auction house and perhaps the broader jewelry industry once business reopens following the COVID-19 crisis.
Catharine Becket, who runs Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction in New York, said of the sale: “The result achieved for this bracelet is testament to the fact that, even under the most challenging of circumstances, the demand for great art endures….Now we can connect with the touch of a button, which allowed us to engage with bidders worldwide. We look forward to bringing more great jewels to the marketplace in the months ahead as we expand our calendar of online sales.”