Christie’s to Sell Marie Antoinette’s Diamonds

Christie’s expects to garner up to $4 million for a pair of diamond bracelets belonging to Marie Antoinette, former queen of France, at its Geneva sale in November.

The set, which contains 112 diamonds, will lead the Magnificent Jewels sale, Christie’s said Wednesday. The queen originally purchased the bracelets in 1776 for 250,000 livres, a huge sum at that time, the auction house noted.

In 1791, Marie Antoinette smuggled the jewels out of the country in a wooden chest, sent to Count Mercy-Argenteau, former ambassador of the Austrian empire, after he left his post in France. Nearly three years later, the queen was guillotined, and Emperor Francis II of Austria ordered the chest to be opened and inventoried. Madame Royale, the surviving daughter of Marie Antoinette, received the jewels in 1796 upon her arrival in Austria, and the pieces were then passed down through her family.

“These exceptional and unique bracelets…will attract bidding from collectors globally,” said François Curiel, chairman of the luxury department at Christie’s. “As seen in recent Geneva sales, the market for jewels of noble provenance continues to perform extremely well.”

In 2018, Sotheby’s sold a natural-pearl and diamond pendant belonging to Marie Antoinette for $36.2 million against its $2 million high estimate. The entire collection of 10 pieces belonging to the French queen raked in $53.1 million, more than seven times its total presale high valuation of $7 million.