The Brazilian-born billionaire Lily Safra is selling a collection of jewels at an auction in Switzerland that’s set to raise more than $20 million for charity.
Safra will offer 70 lots of her jewelry, dating from the 1970s to the present day, in a sale conducted by Christie’s International at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva, on May 14. The event will include 18 pieces by JAR, the largest private collection of items by this exclusive Parisian maker ever offered at auction, the London-based company said in an e-mailed statement.
Proceeds from the auction will be donated to 20 different charitable institutions, said Christie’s. The Elton John AIDS Foundation (Worldwide), Henry Street Settlement, New York and Le Ballet de l’Opera National de Paris will be among the beneficiaries.
A ruby and diamond Camellia flower brooch by JAR, specially created for Safra in 2003, is estimated at $1.2 million to $1.5 million.
Safra is the widow of the Lebanese banker Edmond J. Safra, who died in a fire in his Monaco apartment in 1999. She has a net worth of $1.2 billion, according to Forbes’s March 2012 listing of the world’s wealthiest individuals, and has headed the philanthropic foundation bearing her late husband’s name since 2000.
As well as being a philanthropist, London-based Safra is also a prominent art collector. She paid a record 65 million pounds (then $103.4 million) for Alberto Giacometti’s 1961 bronze sculpture “Walking Man I” at Sotheby’s, London, in February 2010, dealers said. She donated Gerhard Richter’s painting “Abstraktes Bild 849-3 (1997)” to the Israel Museum, the Jerusalem-based institution said in January. The Richter had been bought for $20.8 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in November 2011.
The following day (May 15), Sotheby’s Geneva will be offering for sale the Beau Sancy diamond. Weighing 34.98 carats, the modified pear double rose-cut stone was worn by Marie de Medici in her crown at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henri IV of France in 1610. It is currently owned by the Royal House of Prussia, who acquired the diamond in the 18th century. Sotheby's has valued the gem at $2 million to $4 million.
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)