Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wrightsman Collection Yields Royal Jewel

Diamond Bow Brooch: Image courtesy Sotheby's
Hello again.  It has been far too long since my last offering but the business of business has once again gotten in the way.  But this post will not disappoint.  It seems that Sotheby's has snagged a consignment of jewels from the collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art donor Jayne Wrightsman.  Sotheby's was a shoe-in as they have been selling off Jayne's treasures ever since they aided her in dusbursing works from her Palm Beach residence in 1984.  The present sale is a single owner catalogue rife with the standard sets of jewels that were requisite for a 5th avenue hostess of the 1950s-1980s.  Big, colorful and impressive, but the sale saves one treasure for last....the above royal brooch.
Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna wearing the brooch: Image via The Royal Forums
May I present the diamond and gold bow brooch of circa 1850 from the collection of Russian Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna.  For those not in the know, she was the daughter of Grand Duchess Vladimir whose jewelry collection was one of the only Russian aristocratic collections to escape the revolution intact.  As the story goes, the brooch was a wedding present to Grand Duchess Elena either from her mother or from the Czar himself when she married into the Greek line becoming Princess Nicholas of Greece.  The brooch later passed to Elena's daughter Princess Marina of Greece.  Marina was quite a beauty and made a fortuitous match marrying Prince George of Kent thus becoming a prominent member of the British Royal Family.  The brooch was an apparent favorite as she wore it to numerous state events and in formal portraits most notably to the Coronation of George VI in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth in 1953.

Princess Marina wearing the brooch with her sisters Elizabeth and Olga: Image via Tumblr
Portrait of Princess Marina by Cecil Beaton: Image via Tumblr
Duke and Duchess of Kent (with brooch) at the coronation of George VI in 1937: Image via
Duchess of Kent wearing the brooch at the Coronation of Elizabeth II  in 1953: Image via Tumblr
With the present climate for the repatriation of Russian Royal treasures I am confident that the brooch will sail past its estimate of $200,000-300,000 especially given the added layer of British Royal history.  The listed provenance stops with Princess Marina (Duchess of Kent) so we don't know exactly how and when Jayne Wrightsman acquired it which is always frustrating, but then again this was the collector who managed to get Louis XV's desk out of France so I am sure for her anything was possible.  Until next time...AR

UPDATE:  The sale is over and the brooch achieved a staggering $842,500!  Unfortunately the press release provides no clues as to who the buyer may be.  We must wait for any further disclosures...