A set of diamond-dripping jewels, valued together at over $11 million, will head to auction at Christie’s in New York on April 17.
Formerly owned by reclusive heiress Huguette Clark, who died last May at the age of 104, the history of the jewels could likely remain a mystery forever, quite like the woman who owned them.
Clark, whose estimated $400 million estate remains in legal limbo because of two completely contradicting wills signed within a month of each other in 2005, stashed a pink cushion-cut 9-carat diamond ring (this is the big-ticket auction item, worth up to $8 million), a rectangular-cut colorless diamond ring of about 19 carats (worth up to $3 million), an emerald and diamond bracelet and another gem-adorned bracelet inside a bank vault for 80 years. According to MSNBC, Christie’s believes her mother, Anna, passed down the diamonds to Huguette.
Clark was a daughter of U.S. Senator William A. Clark, who amassed fortunes mining copper and constructing railroads. He has also been credited with founding Las Vegas — hence Nevada’s Clark County. Huguette was born in Paris, grew up in Santa Barbara, Calif., and was married briefly while in her twenties. She was last seen in public after signing divorce papers in Reno, Nev., in the 1930s and was photographed wearing the diamond bracelet.
Having never had children and disappearing from the public before the age of 30, Clark still enjoyed the arts and lived in Manhattan since her mother’s death in 1963, with the last two decades of her life mainly spent in a hospital bed.
As historians search for clues into Clark’s life, they hope the jewels and the sale of her three Manhattan apartments (with a total listing price of about $55 million) will offer insight into Clark’s decision to hide out for so long.