Christie's Auctions Staggering $20.8 Million in Jewelry From Recluse Copper Heiress

Huguette Clark

The 17-piece collection belonged to Huguette Clark, worth an estimated $400 million at the time of her death, and marked the second largest private sale in the U.S. over the last decade.

The jewelry collection of a copper heiress became the second most valuable private collection ever sold in the U.S. over the last decade, achieving $20.8 million at a Christie’s New York auction Wednesday.

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The dazzling jewels belonged to Huguette Clark, who died in 2011 at the age of 104. Clark -- who became a subject of public fascination in the later years of her life, having lived in a hospital room as a recluse surrounded by her extensive doll collection -- left behind a fortune, including her opulent jewelry that was auctioned off as part of an ongoing settlement of her estate.

Christie's confirmed the final tally of the 17 piece jewelry collection more than doubled the pre-sale estimate of $9 million at the auction. Last December, the jewelry collection of Elizabeth Taylor sold for almost $116 million.

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The Clark Pink 9-carat cushion cut diamond became the most valuable pink diamond ever sold at auction in the U.S., fetching a staggering purchase price of $15,762,500 -- well over the original $6 million estimate. The rare jewel was purchased by Brett Stettner of Stettner Investment Diamonds, and is believed to have been handed down to Clark by her mother. 

Another rare and remarkable diamond included in the auction was a 19.86-carat colorless Cartier diamond ring. The ring, which was discovered in its original Cartier box from the 1920s, sold for over $3 million to an anonymous buyer.

"To see Huguette Clark's collection all together is a bit like opening a time capsule, and taking a step back in the Art Deco era," head of jewelry for Christie's America Rahul Kadakia told The Hollywood Reporter. "This was a very fashion-forward collection in its day, and very fitting for a young socialite from one of America's wealthiest Gilded Age families."

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According to Erin McAndrew, head of communications for Christie's America, the proceeds will go back to the Clark estate, which is being handled by the office of the Public Administrator of New York County.

Another notable piece from Clark's array of well-preserved jewels was a ruby, sapphire, emerald and gold bracelet believed to be designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany & Co. circa 1915. The Art Deco bracelet sold for $266,500 with an original estimate of $30,000-50,000.

"The Art Deco era is prized by collectors everywhere because it was one of the best periods of jewelry manufacture, with exceptional craftsmanship and innovation in design," Kadakia said.

The heiress also owned five properties from coast-to-coast. They include three apartments in New York City, an estate in Santa Barbara, Calif., and a mansion in New Canaan, Conn. All three of her Fifth Avenue apartments have been put on the market with a combined listing price of $55 million.

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In spite of her impressive real estate portfolio, she lived the majority of her life as a recluse and never spent a single night in her 12,766-square-foot New Canaan mansion.

Clark had an estimated net worth of $400 million at the time of her death and had no direct descendants. She donated much of her wealth to charity, as designated in her two wills.

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