Professional Jeweler Archive: Bonhams & Butterfields Sets Auction Record

July 2004

From the Vault

Bonhams & Butterfields Sets Auction Record

Estate of New England socialite brings in $6.2 million

In the most successful single-owner jewelry sale in the U.S. this year, international auctioneer Bonhams & Butterfields realized more than 300% of the preauction expectation (including buyer premiums) for jewels from the estate of the late Francoise Hermann of Falmouth, MA. The auction was held April 28.

“We are very honored to have been afforded the opportunity to offer the Hermann jewelry,” says Peter Shemonsky, G.G., jewelry department director at the auction house. “The outstanding results speak volumes as to the quality of the jewelry and the uniqueness of the collection.”

The collection, most of it bought before 1950, included lots from Cartier, Boivin, Van Cleef & Arpels and Lacloche Freres and spanned styles from Belle Epoque and Art Deco to post-World War II Retro. “The pieces were all in impeccable condition for their age; most had not been out of the safety deposit box in 50 years,” says Dana Ehrman, Bonhams & Butterfields’ Los Angeles jewelry specialist.

Among the notable pieces:

  • Diamond drop earrings signed Cartier Paris sold to a Swiss member of the trade for $539,750.
  • An Art Deco diamond, ruby and platinum necklace by Lacloche Freres (pictured) sold to an American buyer for $466,250 (presale estimate $50,000-$70,000).
  • An Art Deco diamond and platinum bracelet featuring three detachable strands of diamonds totaling about 55 carats sold for $248,250.
  • A natural pearl, diamond and platinum necklace sold for $193,250 (presale estimate $60,000-$80,000).
  • A 19th century emerald, diamond and gold necklace, circa 1890, accompanied by an emerald and diamond pendant, sold for $314,250.

Proceeds will fund a charitable foundation named for Hermann, who was born in France in 1919 to Dr. Leon and Fernande Hermann. Dr. Hermann was born in France in 1881 and was a one-time director of the company that built the Statue of Liberty. The elder Hermanns acquired the jewelry from the finest houses worldwide.

An Art Deco diamond, ruby and platinum necklace by Lacloche Freres.
Francoise Hermann

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