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Rediff.com  » News » Marie Antoinette pearl reaps record $36 million

Marie Antoinette pearl reaps record $36 million

November 15, 2018 08:51 IST

Going once, going twice, sold!

Jewellery that belonged to Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI and arguably France’s most famous queen were auctioned by Sotheby’s on Wednesday as part of their “Royal jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family” event.

Take a look at the gorgeous jewellery that was up for sale.

A pearl and diamond pendant owned by Marie Antoinette before she was beheaded during the French Revolution sold for $36 million (Rs 259 crore) at the auction. The pendant featuring an oval diamond and drop-shaped pearl set a new record price for a pearl jewel sold at auction. "Marie Antoinette's pendant is simply irreplaceable and the price it fetched is about far more than the gem itself," Eddie LeVian, the chief executive of jewellers Le Vian, said in a statement. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters
 

The pearl in the pendant is a natural pearl the size of a quail's egg, suspended from a diamond-set bow and topped with an oval-cut diamond. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

A diamond tiara also featured as part of the auction. Marie Antoinette, who historians say was reviled by much of the French public over her lavish spending in the midst of a national financial crisis, was guillotined in Paris in October 1793 at the age of 37. After her death, her jewels followed a winding path highlighting European power dynamics in the 18th and 19th centuries. According to accounts written by the queen's lady-in-waiting, Madame Campan, Marie Antoinette spent an entire evening in the Tuileries Palace wrapping all her diamonds, rubies and pearls in cotton and enclosing them in a wooden chest. They were sent to Brussels, governed by her sister Archduchess Marie-Christine, before being sent on to the French queen's native Austria, and into the safe-keeping of her nephew, the emperor. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

An impossibly tiny pinky ring studded with the initials MA in diamonds and containing a lock of her hair sold for $447,205 (Rs 3.22 crore). Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Sotheby's, which had billed the event as one of the most important royal jewellery auctions in history, said the night did not disappoint. The 100 lots earned a total of $53.1 million -- compared to a pre-sale estimate of $4.2 million -- a performance that bested a previous record set in 1987 when Sotheby's sold a collection of jewel's once held by the House of Windsor. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
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