Auction News Doyle

Pair of Natural Pearls Sell for $3.3 Million at Doyle New York

Pearls

A pair of rare and exceptional natural pearls suspended from a platinum, silver and diamond brooch sold for $3.3 million today at Doyle New York. Shattering its conservative estimate of $100,000 to $200,000, the exquisite jewel features two drop-shaped slightly brownish gray pearls measuring approximately 12.90 to 12.95 x 23.85 mm. and 12.90 to 13.05 x 22.45 mm., with silver and rose-cut diamond-set caps, suspended from a looped ribbon set with 23 old-mind cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.00 carats.

997585

The lot is accompanied by a note stating in ink: History of Empress Eugenie’s Black Pearls & Necklace Brought to this country by George Crocker. Kept by his wife & his daughter Mrs. Philip Kearny _ Emma Rutherford. These in possession of Henry R. Benjamin for his eldest daughter. With an additional notation in pencil: Given to Dorothy R. Benjamin to wear on Xmas 1925 and hold until Anne R. B. is of age. HRB. A notation on the reverse states in ink: Sometime must be put on top of box neck (necklace?) pearls in Guaranty Safe Deposit box 789. So careful of keys. And in a different hand, below the fold: Roger

The impressive pearls were accompanied by a note that mentions the ‘History of Empress Eugenie’s Black Pearls & Necklace Brought to this country by George Crocker.’  Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon the III, sold her magnificent collection of jewelry at auction in 1887 after the fall of the their regime. The historic auction of the French Crown Jewels took place in the Louvre and lasted twelve days, after which Tiffany & Co. proved to be the largest purchaser at the sale and bought almost a third of the crown jewels.

997585_view 09_06

The back side of the brooch

The elegant brooch was created in 1920 and boasts a prestigious provenance as depicted by Doyle New York:

The Crocker Family 
George Crocker (1856-1909) was the son of Charles Crocker, who founded the Central Pacific Railroad in California and left a fortune estimated between $300-400 million at his death in 1888. In 1894, George married California mining heiress Emma (Hanchette) Rutherford, a widow with three grown children. The new couple settled in New York and built an imposing Beaux-Arts townhouse on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 64th Street. They also owned Shields Villa, a “cottage” at Ochre Point in Newport, RI, and they built a lavish country estate in Darlington, near Ramapo, NJ. In 1903, their youngest daughter, Emma Wallace Rutherford, married Philip Kearny, the son of General John Watts Kearny of Washington, DC.

The Rogers Family 
Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909) of Fairhaven, MA, was an American industrialist who made a fortune as a partner in Standard Oil and a founder of the Virginia Railroad. He and his wife, Abbie Palmer Gifford, both descended from families who had arrived on the Mayflower. He was also a close friend and confidant of author and humorist Mark Twain.

Henry Huttleston Rogers’ grandson, Henry Rogers Benjamin, married Dorothy Rennard, who wore the pearls on Christmas, 1925. Their daughter, Anne Rogers Benjamin, wore the pearls at her debut in 1941 at a ball hosted in her honor by her aunt, Beatrice Benjamin Cartwright, in the ballroom of New York’s St. Regis Hotel.

In 1945, Anne Rogers Benjamin married Robert Raymond Barry, and the couple settled in Bronxville, NY. In the 1959, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served three terms.

Provenance:
George Crocker, by descent to his daughter
Emma Wallace Rutherford (Mrs. Philip Kearny)
Acquired circa 1925 by
Henry Rogers Benjamin, by descent to his daughter
Anne Rogers Benjamin (Mrs. Robert R. Barry), by descent to her daughter
Mrs. Lewis A. Shea

997585_view 06_04

The first page of the note that accompanied the pearls

997585_view 07_05

The second page of the note that accompanied the pearls

You Might Also Like

2 Comments

  • Reply
    One for the Record Books: Jewels at Auction in 2014
    January 7, 2015 at 11:22 am

    […] a world auction record for a pair of natural pearls was set by the sale of Empress Eugenie’s natural pearl and diamond brooch, which fetched $3.3 […]

  • Reply
    The Empress Eugénie Pearls To Debut at Masterpiece London
    June 11, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    […] After the fall of the Second Empire and Napoléon’s subsequent abdication, the empress smuggled a number of her jewels when she fled to England with her family. The sale of these precious possessions is believed to have supported their family while in exile. The unprecedented auction was conducted by Messrs. Christie, Manson & Co. in 1887 and realized a total of £50,000, or close to $9 million today. (Read more about the pearls’ provenance here). […]

  • Leave a Reply