Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s stunning sapphire, diamond and ruby Van Cleef & Arpels desk clock sold this month in Paris at Christie’s Fine Jewels sale. Thanks to multiple bidders vying for the piece of Kennedy memorabilia, the auction house’s estimate of €40,000 - €80,000 ($45,067 – $90,135) was well-surpassed when the hammer finally came down at €310,000 ($351,533).
The gold and jeweled 7 ½” clock, circa 1956, was originally offered as part of the historic 1996 sale of her estate by Sotheby’s in New York. When it sold 24 years ago, the timepiece fetched $115,000—over ten-times its high estimate of $10,000—as part of the highly publicized auction that took in over $34 million.
The interest in the sale was so intense that after the 584-page catalog was printed—and absentee bids began flooding in—the Kennedy children added another 106 lots and an addendum to the catalog was issued. Catalog sales alone brought in $2.5 million, with all the proceeds going to charity.
In 2015, at a Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Nobel Jewels auction in Geneva, a comparable ruby, sapphire and diamond Van Cleef & Arpels "Inséparables" desk clock from the 1940s, which did not have the draw of Kennedy provenance, was estimated at 20,000—29,000 CHF and sold for 52,500 CHF ($56,000).
Even in an uncertain economy, and a second time around, Jackie O’s allure can still capture record auction numbers. We wonder if the same could be said for President Kennedy’s MacGregor golf woods that Arnold Schwarzenegger, then married to Maria Shriver, paid $772,500 to get his grip on in the 1996 sale. Though it’s doubtful he’d ever part with them.
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