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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor on the Block

Sotheby's will auction an estimated $4.8 million worth of jewelry once owned by Wallis Simpson, the American socialite who became Duchess of Windsor. The sale will take place Nov. 30 in London.

The 20 pieces belonged to Simpson and King Edward VIII, who abdicated to marry Simpson in 1937. The pair then became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The pieces on sale include a Cartier heart-shaped emerald, ruby and diamond brooch, with the initials W.E. (Wallis, Edward) commissioned in 1957 to mark their 20th wedding anniversary (top); And a Cartier onyx and diamond panther bracelet and a flamingo clip encrusted with multicolored jewels (left).

In addition to the Cartier items, the selection will include a gold mesh, ruby, turquoise and diamond purse by Van Cleef & Arpels and a series of silver items and medals, once property of Edward, the Prince of Wales.

The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor were first offered for auction by Sothebys in Geneva in April, 1987. The two-day auction sold all 306 lots offered and fetched $50 million, well above the $7 million pre-sale estimate. The total remains a world record for the auction of a single-owner jewelry collection. More than 1,000 people attended the sale in Geneva and another 1,000 participated from Sotheby’s New York via satellite.

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