PIECE OF HISTORY

Marie Antoinette’s Pearl Pendant Sells for Record $36 Million at Sotheby’s Auction

A pearl pendant that once belonged to Marie Antoinette has sold for more than $36 million in a rare auction featuring jewelry smuggled out by the queen herself during the French Revolution. The “Queen Marie Antoinette’s Pearl,” with its diamonds and large, drop-shaped pearl, was one of 10 pieces of the ill-fated queen put up for sale at the Sotheby’s auction in Geneva. Some of the items up for sale had not been seen publicly for more than 200 years, having been stowed away in the Bourbon-Parma dynasty in Austria after Antoinette sent her most prized jewels to relatives in Austria for safekeeping. “This is about far more than the gems themselves: Marie Antoinette’s jewelry is inextricably linked to the cause of the French Revolution,” Eddie LeVian, CEO of jewelers Le Vian, said before the auction. Antoinette’s fondness for diamonds and jewels is believed to have played a major role in turning much of France against the monarchy and prompting the uprising that led to the queen’s execution by guillotine in 1793. In total, the Antoinette pieces at Wednesday night’s auction sold for about $43 million. The buyer has asked to remain anonymous, Sotheby’s said.