Filed under: Jewelry
The brooch had a pre-sales estimate of $4 million to $6 million but the Louvre paid close to $11 million, eager to get back a piece of the crown jewels. The brooch was first auctioned off in 1887 when the French government decided the property of French queens and kings would be sold to the highest bidder. The jeweler Emile Schlesinger bought the piece which was originally meant to be a belt buckle and was later turned into a stomacher: a pin that extends from the chest to the waist. Schlesinger bought the piece for Mrs. William Astor and remained in the Astor family for more than 100 years. The Astors were also, for a time, a type of American royalty so this beautiful piece acquired an additional worthy provenance.
Would the piece have been worth less without the history? A piece like this is just the sum of its parts, stones and metal. But it is also so much more, craftsmanship and history and that history was what the Louvre was willing to pay for.