Wallis Simpson jewels sell big at London auction
Wallis Simpson: The dramatic, emerald-eyed panther bracelet was the star of the sale, despite a few missing stones. Sotheby's said it sold for 4.5 million pounds, the highest price it'd ever received for a bracelet at auction.
A set of jewels once owned by American socialite Wallis Simpson — the woman who wooed King Edward VIII from the British throne — fetched nearly 8 million pounds ($12.5 million) at auction late Tuesday.Skip to next paragraph
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Sotheby's said it sold the entire complement of 20 brooches, bracelets and other gems, highlights of which included an onyx and diamond Cartier bracelet in the shape of a panther; a jewel-encrusted flamingo clip and a heart-shaped brooch with the initials W.E. — Wallis and Edward — commissioned for the couple's 20th wedding anniversary.
The dramatic, emerald-eyed panther bracelet was the star of the sale, despite a few missing stones. Sotheby's said it sold for 4.5 million pounds, the highest price it'd ever received for a bracelet at auction.
All the jewels once belonged to Simpson and Edward, who abdicated to marry the twice-divorced 40-year-old in 1937.
Their relationship caused a scandal that culminated when the king made an abdication broadcast to the nation in December 1936, declaring "I have found it impossible ... to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." The British government opposed the king's marriage to Simpson, leaving him little choice if he wanted to marry her.
The items were last sold in 1987, as part of a Sotheby's auction that fetched $50 million, still a record for a jewelry collection. Sotheby's would not disclose the identity of the current seller.
The story of Edward and Mrs. Simpson continues to fascinate, and is currently being turned into a movie, "W.E.," directed by Madonna.
The identity of the jewels' purchaser wasn't made public.