Marie Antoinette pendant fetches US$36 million, shattering estimate

GENEVA: A pearl and diamond pendant owned by Marie Antoinette before she was beheaded during the French Revolution sold for US$36 million, (RM150 million) at an auction on Wednesday, shattering its pre-sale estimate of up to US$2 million.

The Sotheby’s auction at an ultra-luxurious hotel on the banks of Lake Geneva saw feverish bidding for a 10-piece collection owned by the ill-fated queen, featuring jewels unseen in public for two centuries.

The 10 items, which had been estimated to fetch a total of roughly US$3 million, sold for a combined sum of nearly US$43 million, Sotheby’s said.

A diamond brooch pegged to go for roughly US$80,000 sold for US$1.75 million, excluding fees, one of several pieces that brought in more than 20 times its estimated worth.

But the highlight was the pendant featuring an oval diamond and drop-shaped pearl, which Sotheby’s said went to an anonymous, private buyer, without giving further details.

Sotheby’s also said the pendant 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.

“It captures everyone’s imagination,” he added.

“This is the ultimate proof, if it were needed, that the world’s ultra high net worth individuals love rare, natural fancy coloured diamond and pearls jewels as investments, and especially those with royal provenance”.

Journey through Europe

Marie Antoinette’s treasures were the centrepieces of a sale featuring 100 jewels held by the Italian royal House of Bourbon-Parma.

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 US$53.1 million — compared to a pre-sale estimate of US$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.

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.

In 1792, the royal family was imprisoned in Paris. The king and queen were executed the next year, and their 10-year-old son died in captivity.

Only their daughter, Marie Therese of France, survived. She was sent to Austria in 1796, where she was given her mother’s jewels.

She had no children herself, but passed on the treasures to her niece and adopted daughter, Louise of France, Duchess of Parma, who in turn left them to her son, Robert I (1848-1907), the last ruling Duke of Parma.

They have been privately owned by relatives ever since. — AFP

A celebration of diversity

H&M has a history of making luxury high fashion more accessible and affordable to the masses, by collaborating with an eclectic mix of fashion-heavyweights; from Karl Lagerfeld to Comme des Garçons, Balmain to Kenzo, Versace to Maison Margiela and Jimmy Choo.

Following the previous success with Erdem, this year, Italian fashion house Moschino helmed by Jeremy Scott announced its sensational collaboration – Moschino [tv] H&M during Coachella Music and Arts Festival in April that immediately shook the fashion realm.

What immediately came to mind was his reoccurring theme of symbolic pop culture references he brought to the brand as creative director since 2013, adapting the iconography of McDonald’s, Barbie, Loony Tunes characters, Candy Crush, Spongebob Squarepants and many others.

Fast track six months later, we finally have a complete look of the full assortment, featuring a 114-piece collection for womenswear and menswear altogether. The lookbook, shot and styled by Scott’s longtime collaborators’ photographer Marcus Mam and stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele is as expected – a star-studded celebration of diversity.

Scott gathered his close-knit group of family friends to amplify positivity, love and diversity at the heart of the high-energy, kitsch collection.

It features the most recent RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Aquaria, transgender model Teddy Quinlivan, body positive activist-model Barbie Ferreira, influencer twin-models Aya and Ami (Amiaya), Scott’s assistant Sakura Bready, as well as Moschino head of global PR and communications and best friend Pablo Olea, to name a few.

He revealed: “Whenever I design, I think about my friends. The Moschino [tv] H&M lookbook is like a party; celebrating the fun, the pop, the creativity and the energy of the people and the collection.”

H&M creative director Ann-Sofie Johansson described the much-anticipated range as a “loud and proud collection for everyone to share in the fun, no matter who you are or where you are from”.

She added: “It is the perfect collaboration for fashion right now, mixing together pop, street culture, logos and also glamour. Scott is amazing, he knows how to have fun with fashion and to connect with his fans around the world.”

Nonetheless, Moschino [tv] H&M is quite an unusual one, which includes a lot more accessories than the previous H&M designer collaborations – precisely how Moschino always has been, that more is more.

Moschino’s legendary humour reimagined the classic Moschino teddy bear plushy into a phone case, bags in the shape of a metal padlock, leather jacket and another of a black condom wrapper as a subversive wit.

But what’s more interesting is in fact, the amalgamation of both’s emblematic logos that broke H&M’s rules of never putting its logo on the exterior of its clothing.

It is no mere coincidence that Scott has incorporated some alphabetical elements in the monumental collaboration with the Swedish fast-fashion brand. The logo H&MOSCHINO has been emblazoned on t-shirts, innerwear and accessories.

Meanwhile, Moschino also did an exclusive micro collab with MTV. Yes, you read it right, a collaboration within a collaboration resulting in another playful mashup of MTV’s logo and Moschino’s.

A brand new logo in true Moschino style, M[tv]OSCHINO captures the nostalgic pop culture movement and is embroidered on hoodies, t-shirts and slippers.

It is essentially a collection full of statement pieces that subvert ideas of cut and scale. It’s all about the attitude – colourful, vibrant and so full of life. You have to be unapologetically loud and shamelessly fearless with a sense of radical humour to pull off these bold and playful pieces.

Choose from a down jacket covered in gold sequins, a black hoodie embroidered with gold chains, extreme oversize jeans, a fuchsia faux fur coat punctured with gold chains or even a bustier entirely covered in rhinestones.

The Moschino [tv] H&M collection drops on Nov 8 exclusively at H&M Avenue K and online at hm.com.