Jewels that King Edward VIII gave the woman for whom he renounced the U.K. throne will be offered in a London sale that may fetch as much as $5 million.
The King abdicated in 1936 to become the Duke of Windsor and marry U.S. divorcee Wallis Simpson. The 20 pieces that previously belonged to her are to be sold by Sotheby’s on Nov. 30 with a formal estimate of about 3 million pounds.
Sotheby’s said the Windsors were enthusiastic jewelry collectors. They commissioned pieces from Cartier and other makers during their courtship in the U.K. and married life in the Bahamas and France.
“The offering comprises incomparable examples of the genius of Cartier in collaboration with the Windsors,” said David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry in Europe and the Middle East. “The inscriptions tell the story of perhaps the greatest love story of the 20th century.”
An unidentified owner is selling the items, which were acquired at Sotheby’s record “Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor” sale in Geneva in April 1987.
Eleven Cartier pieces are included in the new sale. Among these is an onyx-and-diamond bracelet designed, with the Duke’s encouragement, in the form of a panther by Jeanne Toussaint for Cartier in 1952. This is expected to sell for between 1 million pounds and 1.5 million pounds, as is a flamingo-shaped brooch by Toussaint that the Duchess bought in 1940.
At the 1987 auction, these pieces sold for the equivalent of 860,082 pounds and 497,942 pounds, said Sotheby’s.
The Duchess’s Cartier diamond charm bracelet carries a low estimate of 350,000 pounds. The piece features nine gem-set Latin crosses that commemorate moments of personal significance to the couple, including an assassination attempt on the King.
An 18-carat gold and gem-set cigarette case by Cartier inscribed with the words “David from Wallis Christmas 1935” and engraved with a map of holiday destinations they enjoyed together is expected to fetch at least 150,000 pounds.
Sotheby’s 1987 Duchess of Windsor sale in Geneva fetched 75.4 million Swiss francs ($71.7 million), which remains an auction record for a single-owner collection of jewelry.
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)