Last night, in an electric atmosphere at Sotheby’s Geneva, outstanding pieces from the collection of international screen legend Gina Lollobrigida sold for a combined total of CHF 4,741,500 ($4,962,122) (est. CHF 1.8- 3.1 million/ $1.9-3.2 million). An exceptional pair of natural pearl and diamond pendant earrings – said to have belonged to the historic collection of the House of Habsburg – which the actress wore on numerous landmark occasions in her career, sold for CHF 2,285,000 ($2,391,321) – an auction record for a pair of natural pearl ear pendants, beating the figure set by Elizabeth Taylor’s pearl earrings in 2011*. Buyers from around the world also clamoured for seminal pieces from the 1950s and 1960s by Bulgari. Ms Lollobrigida’s collection was the centrepiece of an epic auction of Magnificent and Noble Jewels which saw nearly 650 lots selling for a combined total of CHF 74,751,375 ($78,229,556) (est. CHF 46,982,000- 69,900,500 / $49,168,072- 73,152,970). Tonight a 74.53 carat cushion shaped fancy yellow diamond formerly in the collection of the Persian Shah, Ahmed Shah Qajar also sold for CHF 2,853,000 ($2,985,750), establishing an auction record for a fancy yellow diamond and a record price per carat for a fancy yellow diamond ($40,061 per carat).
Speaking after the sale, Gina Lollobrigida said: “Jewels are meant to give pleasure and for many years I had enormous pleasure wearing mine. Many people tried to persuade me to sell them, but for a very long time I was unwilling. What changed, was seeing a little girl called Sofia suffering from a disorder, which could only be helped by stem cell treatment – treatment which she is unable to receive in Italy. Selling my jewels to help raise awareness of stem cell therapy, which can cure so many illnesses, seems to me a wonderful use to which to put them. It is my hope that the Italian parliament will approve this ground-breaking treatment, so that children and adults in Italy should have free access to it without having to travel abroad at great expense. It now gives me great pleasure to see that these jewels will create a legacy which will live on after me and continue to do good.”
David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland and Chairman of the Jewellery Department for Europe and the Middle East commented: “Every so often a very special jewel collection comes along which is so much more than the sum of its parts. Gina Lollobrigida’s magnificent jewels captured the public imagination around the world and the prices achieved this evening reflect not only the importance and rarity of those pieces, but also the aura of fascination which this legendary actress continues to exert. Sotheby’s was honoured to be entrusted with the sale and we are delighted that the results will contribute to the noble cause of stem cell research, reflecting Miss Lollobrigida’s great generosity of spirit and her humanitarian work.”
Testament to the allure of one of the greatest stars of 20th century cinema, outstanding jewels from the collection of Gina Lollobrigida excited interest from around the world. On Friday night, the star caused a sensation when she visited the opening of the exhibition of her collection at Sotheby’s Geneva.
The highlight of the collection – the record-breaking pair of natural pearl and diamond pendant earrings are exceptional for their colour and size, each drop-shaped natural pearl measuring approximately 15.6 x 12.1 x 24.9mm and 15.9 x 13.8 x 23.3mm. Estimated at CHF 565,000-940,000 ($600,000-1,000,000), these pearls were worn by Miss Lollobrigida on numerous public occasions, including to meet Princess Margaret at The Taming of the Shrew premiere in London in 1967. Tonight they were pursued by no less than eight bidders before selling to a buyer in the room.
The other star lot of the collection was a diamond necklace/bracelet combination, Bulgari, 1954 which realised CHF 749,000 ($783,851) (lot 663, est. CHF 285,000-470,000/ $300,000-500,000). The necklace was identified by Daniela Mascetti as one of Bulgari’s most important creations in her book Bulgari. Gina Lollobrigida was seen wearing this jewel on key moments in her professional and personal life, including when she received her 1961 Golden Globe for World Film Favourite – Female.
Other highlights in the collection included:
- A diamond ring set with a cushion-shaped diamond weighing 19.03 carats, Bulgari, 1962 which brought CHF 749,000 ($783,851) (lot 662, est. CHF 375,000-750,000/ $400,000-800,000).
- A pair of emerald and diamond earclips, Bulgari, 1964 which sold for CHF 293,000 ($306,633) (lot 659, est. CHF 145,000-240,000/ $150,000-250,000).
- An emerald and diamond ring, Bulgari, 1964, set with a step-cut emerald weighing 16.62 carats which was bought for realised CHF 173,000 ($181,050) (lot 660, est. CHF 115,000-170,000/ $120,000-180,000).