New York Crowd Bids on Duchess’ Jewelry With PM-Windsor Jewels, Bjt
NEW YORK (AP) _ The gems were an ocean away, but that didn’t keep 600 people in Manhattan from bidding on the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels.
″These are the King’s jewels. How could you not want to get the King’s jewels?″ asked Alexander Acevedo, an art and jewelry dealer who ended up buying 10 of the 95 lots auctioned off in Geneva on Thursday.
Although the jewels were in Geneva, where an additional 1,000 bidders sat, the New York buyers had studied many of the items during a recent exhibition, read about them in a $50 catalog and gazed at slides of them as they were being sold.
The auction was scheduled to conclude today with the sale of an additional 211 pieces of jewelry, as well as silver and gold belts and purses, trophy cups, swords and assorted candlesticks, cigarette boxes and lighters.
Nearly all lots sold Thursday were pieces of jewelry once worn by the American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson, for whom King Edward VIII gave up the British throne.
The New York bidders heard on loudspeakers the auctioneer in Geneva announce the bids, mostly in English but also in French. They made their bids known by raising a numbered paddle or otherwise signaling to David Redden, a Sotheby’s senior vice president who wore an operator’s headset and relayed the bids to Geneva.
Other Sotheby’s employees in New York worked at least 20 telephones to relay the bids of clients who couldn’t make it to New York or Geneva.
Next to the slides of the item being auctioned, a scoreboard flashed the latest bid, first in Swiss francs and then in dollars.
Stretch limousines, Jaguars and Mercedes sat outside Sotheby’s showroom on the Upper East Side. Inside, a number of furs were checked.
The first 95 lots sold for $33,507,131, including a high of $2.9 million for a 31-carat diamond ring, Sotheby’s said.
″In my 20 years of going to auctions, I’ve never seen anything like this,″ said Mohammed Jabir, owner of a shop in Manhattan’s diamond district. ″I buy many things, but I can’t do anything here. This auction is beyond anyone.″
Then who was that, bidding $1 million on a pair of diamond and ruby clips?
″They are individuals who got carried away with the love story. People who made millions in the stock market. I’m frustrated. I can’t buy anything here,″ Jabir said. ″You see this necklace? I can get the exact same thing for one-tenth the price.″
Wendy Portman, a jewelry consultant from Toronto, had a different opinion of the prices.
″I don’t think they’re outrageous,″ she said. ″If a Van Gogh (painting) can go for $39 million, then these prices are understandable, because these are one of a kind.″
The crowd thinned halfway through the three-hour session.
″Most people are dazzled by the prices,″ Mrs. Portman said. ″But when they go home and analyze it, they’ll be sorry, as I am because I didn’t buy something in the beginning. Those seashell earrings, for example.″
The seashell earrings, five pairs of them, sold for between $9,000 and $20,000 a pair.
The Duke and Duchess ″brought to light that jewelry can be an investment, too,″ Mrs. Portman said. ″Everything he gave her was for love, but now they are worth plenty of money.″