Jewels hidden since the ’40s are out of the vault, at last
- Last Updated: 12:49 PM, April 13, 2012
- Posted: 10:38 PM, April 12, 2012
Christie’s jewelry expert Rahul Kadakia didn’t know what to expect when he opened Huguette Clark’s secret Manhattan bank vault.
After all, the life of the reclusive copper heiress, who died in May at age 104, was a mystery — and the vault hadn’t been opened since the 1940s. Clark removed herself from public life around then and since the 1980s lived in area hospitals instead of her family’s Fifth Avenue mansion. She outlived all her siblings, taking her last breath surrounded by her beloved doll collection.
Her jewels were just as mysterious. When the family asked for an appraisal, Kadakia began opening boxes and was thrilled by what he found — glorious examples of high-end art deco jewelry, including a bubble-gum pink 9-carat diamond, valued at up to $8 million.
“With each box I opened up, I thought, ‘This lady … had such great taste,’ ” he says. “It was one thing to have had immense wealth in the early 20th century; it was another thing to go and buy jewelry that had so much class.”
Clark’s gems leave a picture of “regal life in the Golden Age,” says Kadakia of the art deco period from about 1915 to 1935.
“They hadn’t seen the light of day [for] almost 65 years,” says Kadakia. Now, you can see them up close for yourself. Take a peek before they’re auctioned off Tuesday.
On display, starting tomorrow at 10 a.m., at Christie’s, 20 Rockefeller Plaza; 212-636-2000, christies.com