NEW YORK — Works by the first jeweller to the stars, the infamous Paul Flato, will be included in Bonhams April 15 auction of Fine Jewellery at the Madison Avenue salesroom. Flatos' forward-thinking, whimsical creations were often worn on screen by devotees, and his impressive client list included Greta Garbo, Mae West, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Doris Duke, Ginger Rogers, Carmen Miranda, Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn, and Gloria Vanderbilt. Flato was convicted of fraudulently pawning $100,000 in jewels in 1943 – a crime that sent him to Sing Sing penitentiary for 16 months. Upon his release he fled to Mexico City, fighting extradition charges for larceny and forgery, but eventually moving back to the US in 1953.
Flato returned to Mexico City in the 1970s, opening a fashionable jewellery store and living quietly in the rich and inspiring culture for several decades. Bonhams will offer several of his creations from this period, including an eighteen karat gold and diamond "Double Longhorn" bracelet (est. $8,000-12,000), and a brass and eighteen karat gold cowbell necklace referencing the Mexican festival day for the Virgin of Guadalupe (est. $8,000-12,000).
"These extraordinary pieces, acquired by a family friend and admirer of Flato, demonstrate his creative, witty and inventive sense of design," said Susan Abeles, Bonhams US Head of Jewellery. "We're seeing a renewed interest in bold, unique eighteen karat gold jewellery dating from the 1970s and 1980s."
Confident trend-setters looking for gold statement jewellery are sure to notice the 1970s eighteen karat gold and lapis lazuli pendant necklace on offer (est. $10,000-12,000), as well as the 1983 opal and eighteen karat gold necklace by Angela Cummings for Tiffany and Co. (est. $5,000-$7,000) – a necklace so bold, it could be worn in lieu of a scarf. A 1989 mother-of-pearl and diamond "Moonscape" eighteen karat gold bangle bracelet and ear clip set by Albert Lipten (est. $8,000-12,000), offered alongside the matching necklace (est.$12,000-15,000), are memorable for both their youthful pattern and celestial sparkle.
"Women today want jewellery that speaks to their individuality - whether amorphic or architectural, humorous or spiritual. It is fine jewellery that is meant to be worn," explained Virginia Salem, Director of the Jewellery Department at Bonhams in New York.
Additional classical highlights include a natural fancy yellow internally flawless diamond solitaire ring, weighing 15.45 carats (est. $280,000-380,000), a Harry Winston diamond solitaire ring, featuring a 4.35 carat pear shaped diamond, D colour (est. $90,000-120,000), a ruby and diamond floral necklace (est. $80,000-100,000), and a 1929 Mauboussin art deco jadeite jade and diamond brooch centred by a cushion shaped diamond approximately 6.50 carat ($70,000-90,000).
Bonhams Fine Jewellery auction will take place April 15 in New York, immediately following a Prominent Private Collection of Fine Jewellery. The sale will preview April 5-7 at Bonhams Los Angeles, and April 11-15 at Bonhams New York.
A fully illustrated catalogue is available online at www.bonhams.com/auctions/20941/
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com