Bracelet breaks record at Sotheby's
A diamond and onyx panther bracelet owned by Wallis Simpson, whose love affair with King Edward VIII led to his abdication, sold for £4.5 million (€5.3 million) yesterday, an auction record both for a bracelet and a Cartier item.
It was the highlight of Sotheby's sale of 20 pieces owned by the late Duke and Duchess of Windsor which raised a total of £8 million, twice the expected amount.
The next biggest lot of the night was a ruby, sapphire, emerald and diamond flamingo clip, also by Cartier, which fetched £1.7 million, above the high estimate.
David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewellery in Europe and the Middle East, said the sale's success was partly down to the strength of the broader gem market.
The king, who renounced his claim to the British throne in 1936 to marry the American divorcee, showered her with gifts of jewellery throughout their courtship and marriage.
Another Cartier bracelet with pendant jewelled crosses, commemorating a series of events in Simpson's life including an assassination attempt on the king and her own appendectomy, sold for £601,000.
After Edward's abdication, the couple were given the titles of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and left Britain, living abroad for the rest of their lives.
The 20 lots are just a fraction of the original "Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor" collection, which was sold soon after Simpson's death in 1986.
Still the most valuable single-owner jewellery sale ever, the collection sold for £31 million, more than seven times the pre-sale estimate.