Marlene Dietrich’s iconic ruby and diamond bracelet going under hammer for up to $4.5m
Marlene Dietrich’s iconic Van Cleef and Arpels ruby and diamond bracelet is being auctioned at a starting price of up to $4.5million.
Worn by the late actress – who was killed by kidney failure at her Paris apartment in 1992 aged 90 – to the Academy Awards in 1951 and in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Stage Fright’, which was released a year earlier, the “sculptural” piece is part of the upcoming Christie’s sale ‘The Magnificent Jewels of Anne Eisenhower’.
Claibourne Poindexter from Christie’s said about it being a unique piece of “art”: “This bracelet is legendary in a lot of ways.
“It was one of (Marlene’s) favourite pieces of jewellery. It’s bold. It’s very large in scale and has a wonderful curvature.
“She wore it so beautifully in ‘Stage Fright’, an Alfred Hitchcock film from 1950, and you get this appreciation for how sculptural the design is.
“It doesn’t really fit into any period. It’s not art deco jewellery. It’s not retro jewellery. It’s just sort of high glamour. It really is its own work of art.”
Marlene commissioned the piece from jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels in 1937 and it is from a collection amassed by Anne Eisenhower – an interior designer who died last year aged 73, who was a granddaughter of President Dwight D Eisenhower.
Her other prized pieces going up for auction in June include a Panthère de Cartier brooch and a Tiffany and Co art deco diamond bracelet bearing a rose design made from rubies and emeralds.
Christie’s Americas chairman Marc Porter said: “From Marlene Dietrich to President Dwight D Eisenhower, the Anne Eisenhower Collection traces the history of the last century through a single collector’s brilliant passion for fine jewels.
“Anne Eisenhower had a keen eye for the finest examples of the jeweller’s art, and her collection tells fascinating and interwoven stories of patrons and collectors.”
Anne bought Marlene’s bracelet in 1992 and it is the lot with the highest bidding estimate in the upcoming auction, of $2.5 million to $4.5 million.
The actress’ grandson Peter Riva said the bracelet was created when one of Marlene’s lovers, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ writer Erich Maria Remarque, told her she should “take all her bits of jewellery and make them into one fabulous piece”.
He added: “It is made up of diamond earrings, a diamond necklace, matching ruby bracelet and earrings, a couple of pins, all told 30 things.”
Designed by Louis Arpels and known as a Jarretière bracelet (from the French word for garter), it includes cushion-shaped Burmese rubies as well as rectangular and baguette-cut diamonds, all set in platinum.
It comes with Mark Cross leather case with the initials M.D., and when the bracelet sold in 1992 it went for $990,000.
The actress lost her other extravagant jewels “probably to the IRS for back taxes”, according to her grandson – but she managed to hang on to the Jarretière bracelet.
Highlights from the ‘Magnificent Jewels of Anne Eisenhower’ auction will be previewed at the Christie’s Los Angeles gallery in Beverly Hills on March 23, with additional showings to be held in Paris, Geneva and Hong Kong before the June 7 auction.