Sotheby’s To Offer Donnersmarck Diamonds At Geneva Sale
October 2017 – Sotheby’s will offer the Donnersmarck Diamonds, once owned by La Païva, one of the most famous 19th century courtesans in Paris, at its auction of magnificent and noble jewels in Geneva on November 15.
With a pre-sale estimate of $9-14 million (CHF 8,810,000 – 13,700,000), the pair of fancy intense yellow diamonds consist of a cushion-shaped diamond weighing 102.54 carats, and a pear-shaped diamond weighing 82.47 carats.
COUNT HENCKEL VON DONNERSMARCK
The stones will be offered as a single lot at the sale at the Mandarin Oriental, Sotheby’s said.
The diamonds once belonged to La Païva, Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck (1819-1884), who rose from modest circumstances in her native Russia to the European aristocracy.
Born Esther Lachman, she arrived in Paris aged 18 and was introduced to cultural and artistic circles by her lover, composer and pianist, Henri Herz.
In the late 1840s, she met the Portuguese Marquis Albino Francisco de Araújo de Païva. They were married in 1851 but the marriage lasted only one day. Now known as La Païva, it was around this time she met her future husband, Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck, a Prussian industrialist and mining magnate.
Their relationship was the talk of Paris high society and in 1871, they were married.
The Donnersmarck Diamonds – Sotheby’s Geneva – 15 November 2017
In 1855, La Païva purchased a building plot on the Champs Elysées: L’Hôtel de La Païva was to be one of the most lavish mansions ever built on the avenue. Among its features is a central staircase made of Algerian yellow marble, which matched the yellow of the Donnersmarck diamonds.
“These stunning diamonds carry with them a fascinating story, full of romance and determination over adversity, which could have inspired some of the greatest novels and operas,” said David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s international jewellery division.
The diamonds were the top lot at Sotheby’s first noble jewels auction in 2007 and now belong to a private collection.
“Jewels of royal and aristocratic provenance carry with them a special sense of history and these are no exception,” Bennett said.