Sale doubles estimate as record is set for natural pearl earrings.
The Sotheby’s Geneva auction of Gina Lollobrigida’s Jewels stole the show last night during an evening auction of Magnificent & Noble Jewels, with a total CHF4.74 million (£3.2m) raised by the collection, set to be donated to stem cell research.
The money raised last night sat alongside a total CHF74.7 million (£50.7m) raised by the lots sold as part of Sotheby’s Magnificent & Noble Jewels auction, which itself exceeded expectations as a new record was set for a fancy yellow diamond at auction.
Sotheby’s described the atmosphere at the auction as electric as Lollobrigida’s jewels went under the hammer, beating their estimate of CHF1.8 million to CHF3.1 million (£1.2m to £2.1m).
A pair of exceptional natural pearl and diamond pendant earrings – said to have belonged to the historic collection of the House of Habsburg and worn by the actress on numerous landmark occasions in her career – sold for CHF2.29 million (£1.55m), setting an auction record for a pair of natural pearl drop earrings. The hammer price beat the figure set by Elizabeth Taylor’s pearl earrings in 2011.
Lollobrigida’s collection of Bulgari jewellery from the 1950s and 1960s also wowed bidders last night.
A diamond necklace and bracelet combination by Bulgari, dated 1954, sold for CHF749,000 (£507,584), worn by Lollobrigida when she accepted her 1961 Golden Globe award for World Film Favourite Female.
Other highlights in the collection included a Bulgari diamond ring set with a cushion cut diamond weighing 19.03cts, which also sold for CHF749,000 (£507,584), and a pair of emerald and diamond Bulgari earrings, which bought in CHF293,000 (£198,653).
Lollobrigida said after last night’s sale: "Jewels are meant to give pleasure and for many years I had enormous pleasure wearing mine. Many people tried to persuade me to sell them, but for a very long time I was unwilling. What changed was seeing a little girl called Sofia suffering from a disorder, which could only be helped by stem cell treatment – treatment which she is unable to receive in Italy.
"Selling my jewels to help raise awareness of stem cell therapy, which can cure so many illnesses, seems to me a wonderful use to which to put them. It is my hope that the Italian parliament will approve this ground-breaking treatment, so that children and adults in Italy should have free access to it without having to travel abroad at great expense. It now gives me great pleasure to see that these jewels will create a legacy which will live on after me and continue to do good.”
Lollobrigida’s collection was the centrepiece of Sotheby’s Magnificent and Noble Jewels, described as "epic" by the auction house, with an near-white glove sale totalling CHF74.7 million (£50.7m).
A 74.53 carat cushion shaped fancy yellow diamond formerly owned by the Persian Shah, Ahmed Shah Qajar, sold for CHF2.85 million (£1.93m), establishing an auction record for a fancy yellow diamond and a record price per carat for a fancy yellow diamond.
David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland jewellery fepartment for Europe and the Middle East said of the sale: “Every so often a very special jewel collection comes along which is so much more than the sum of its parts. Gina Lollobrigida’s magnificent jewels captured the public imagination around the world and the prices achieved this evening reflect not only the importance and rarity of those pieces, but also the aura of fascination which this legendary actress continues to exert.
"Sotheby’s was honoured to be entrusted with the sale and we are delighted that the results will contribute to the noble cause of stem cell research, reflecting Miss Lollobrigida’s great generosity of spirit and her humanitarian work.”