RECORD BREAKERS: Auctioneers reeled in $42.7 million for Marie-Antoinette’s jewels, which were up for sale at Sotheby’s. Participants from more than 43 countries joined the auction that took place in Geneva.
Ten pieces from the Queen of France’s private collection, which were hidden away from public view for 200 years, were put up for sale by the Bourbon Parma family, descendants of Louis XIV, the Holy Roman Emperors and Pope Paul III.
A diamond and natural pearl pendant, estimated at a presale value of $2 million, sold for $36 million to a private European buyer. The sale established a new auction record for a natural pearl.
Each jewel sold for more than double, if not triple, the presale estimates. “Tonight we saw the Marie-Antoinette factor work its magic. No other queen is more famous for her love of jewels, and her personal treasures, pearls and diamonds that survived intact the tumults of history, captivated the interest of collectors around the world,” said Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby’s jewelry chairman of Europe.
During Marie-Antoinette’s unsuccessful escape during the French Revolution, the jewels, which were transported separately, made their safe passage to Vienna into the hands of her nephew, the Austrian Emperor.
A monogrammed diamond ring also broke records and sold for 50 times the estimated price at $443,000. The item contained a lock of Marie-Antoinette’s hair.