A ruby and diamond bracelet that once belonged to film star Marlene Dietrich will be up for auction in June at Christie’s New York, where it’s expected to sell for as much as $4.5m.
Dietrich, who was born in Berlin in 1901, was one of the most iconic stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age and is remembered for her staunch activism against Nazism and fascism during the Second World War. Dietrich also challenged the strict gender roles that governed cinema in her time.
In 1937, Dietrich acquired the “Jarretière” ruby and diamond bracelet from French luxury jewellery company Van Cleef & Arpels. Dietrich wore the bracelet in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950 murder mystery Stage Fright, in which Dietrich plays a famous actress whose husband is murdered. Dietrich also wore the bracelet to the 1951 Academy Awards and it can be seen on her wrist in footage of her presenting an award during the ceremony. The bracelet was Dietrich’s favourite piece of jewellery, her grandson Peter Riva told The Baltimore Sun in 1992, after Dietrich died in May that year at age 90.
“It was the only piece of jewellery that she kept,” Riva said. “She also loved her emeralds, but she lost them, probably to the IRS for back taxes. She hung on to the ruby bracelet through good and bad times.”
Dietrich’s family said at the time they believe the bracelet was created for her by Van Cleef & Arpels out of pieces of her existing jewellery collection, including diamond earrings, a diamond necklace and matching ruby bracelet and earrings. In 1992, the bracelet fetched $990,000 at Sotheby’s New York.
The bracelet is the star lot in a sale of interior designer Anne Eisenhower’s jewellery collection. Eisenhower, who was a granddaughter of US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, died last year at age 73. Other highlights from her collection include a 20-carat diamond ring that is expected to sell for at least $1.2m and a panther brooch by Cartier that could fetch as much as $150,000.
Eisenhower’s jewellery collection will be sold in a live and online sale during Christie’s Luxury Week in June. Auctions of jewellery, other luxury items and objects affiliated with celebrities and historical figures have become an increasingly important business line for Christie's and Sotheby's in recent years.