"Reluctant heiress" jewels set for $10 million auction

Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:22am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Just three months after its record-smashing sale of Elizabeth Taylor's renowned jewels, Christie's has nabbed another storied collection belonging to "reluctant heiress" Huguette Clark which is poised to take in more than $10 million.

Clark, who died last year at age 104, was heir to a copper, timber and railroad fortune and had no children. Married once briefly, she shunned the social limelight and trappings of wealth, preferring to spend time with her doll collection that was worth millions.

As such, she earned the nickname "the reluctant heiress," eschewing lavish homes in New York and California, choosing instead to live out her years in hospitals.

Christie's said on Tuesday it would sell 17 pieces of Clark's jewels, led by an extremely rare 9-carat pink diamond ring and a 20-carat D-color diamond ring, estimated to sell for about $7 million and $2.5 million, respectively, when they are auctioned in New York on April 17.

"This is truly a fairytale collection," said Rahul Kadakia, Christie's Americas head of jewelry, in announcing the sale.

Kadakia said it was an extraordinary moment "opening the vault to find this treasure trove of period jewels from the best French houses of the early 1900s."

"The iconic Art Deco design and exceptional craftsmanship of these meticulously preserved jewels are emblematic of the great Gilded Age in American history," he added.

The auction house said Clark's collection was believed to have been stored in a bank vault since the 1940s and includes signed Art Deco Cartier, Dreicer & Co. and Tiffany & Co. jewels.   Continued...

A Christie's auctioneer conducts an auction of American Furniture and Folk Art and John James Audubon's 'The Birds of America' at Christie's auction in New York January 20, 2012. REUTERS/ Kena Betancur