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Sotheby’s Sale of Royal Austrian Jewelry Smashes Estimates

November 8, 2023  |  Leah Meirovich
Sotheby's main image 1280 USED 081123

More than 200 royal jewels with links to Austria’s Hapsburg dynasty sold for $10.7 million at Sotheby’s on Tuesday, nearly double the expected intake.

The jewels — which all came from a single owner and were recently discovered in a bank vault — comprised “the most important and largest” collection of Viennese imperial and royal jewelry ever to go under the hammer, according to Sotheby’s. The Geneva sale, called Vienna 1900: An Imperial and Royal Collection, was their first time appearing at auction.

Sotheby’s sold all 207 items on offer. While the total presale estimate had been CHF 3 million to CHF 5 million ($3.3 million to $5.5 million), some 82% of the lots exceeded their upper price tags, with hundreds of bidders from Europe and North America taking part.

The highlight of the sale was a corsage ornament in a garland design with natural pearls and diamonds hanging down. The piece, which Archduchess Marie-Thérèse of Austria-Teschen received as a wedding gift in 1865, sold for nearly $1.2 million, more than twice its CHF 450,000 ($500,190) upper estimate.

“Vienna 1900 is a triumphal culmination of centuries of collecting by some of the most respected and legendary imperial and royal houses in Europe,” said Andres White Correal, deputy chairman and senior jewelry director at Sotheby’s. “At first sight, I knew that Vienna 1900 would join the pantheon of Sotheby’s historical sales.”

Here are some other highlights from the auction:

This natural pearl and diamond brooch by Emil Biedermann from 1865 fetched CHF 863,600 ($959,925). The piece, from the collection of Archduchess Marie-Thérèse of Austria-Teschen, duchess of Württemberg, had a high estimate of CHF 450,000 ($500,190).

A diamond and natural-pearl tiara from the late 19th century by Köchert sold for CHF 812,800 ($901,268), exceeding its CHF 450,000 ($500,190) upper presale price. It originally belonged to Princess Maria Immaculata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, archduchess of Austria-Tuscany.

Another Köchert tiara, this one from 1896 with rubies and diamonds, was created for Duchess Isabella of Württemberg, princess of Saxony. It brought in CHF 762,000 ($846,985) against a high estimate of CHF 350,000 ($389,040).

Sotheby’s sold this Köchert diamond rivière necklace from around 1900 for CHF 660,400 ($734,060). The piece is from the collection of Archduchess Maria Immaculata of Austria-Tuscany, duchess of Württemberg, and had an upper price tag of CHF 450,000 ($500,190).

Main image: The pearl garland corsage ornament. (Sotheby’s)


Sotheby's main image 1280 USED 081123 Sotheby’s Sale of Royal Austrian Jewelry Smashes Estimates

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