|The Empress Joséphine Fabergé Tiara|
Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763-1814) was the first wife of Napoleon I. They divorced in 1810 and Joséphine lived at the Château de Malmaison, where her visitors included Alexander I of Russia (1777-1825). The briolette-cut diamonds that rest today in this Fabergé tiara were given to Joséphine by the Tsar on one of his visits (some say as payment for some artwork, though he was also known to present her with gifts). They were high-quality diamonds, of exceptional clarity and size, and were passed down to her son Eugène de Beauharnais (1781-1824), who became the Duke of Leuchtenberg when he married Princess Augusta of Bavaria.
|The tiara in its box, on a model, and one of the briolettes in close up|
Video, aboveChristie's auctioned the tiara in 2007. Surpassing initial estimates of $788,800 - $1,183,200, it sold for a whopping $2,071,389, the value due not only to the history and the large size and high quality of the individual diamonds, but to the Fabergé mark. As I said before, a Fabergé tiara is rare - and this one was scooped up by a Fabergé collector. The McFerrin Collection, owned by American collectors Dorothy and Artie McFerrin of Texas, is one of the most important private collections of Fabergé objects. They now count this tiara among their treasures, and have placed it (and plenty of other items) on extended loan to the Houston Museum of Natural Science for exhibit. A can't-miss, if you should happen to pass through Houston.
Have you seen this one yourself? Is it a favorite?
Photos: Christie's/Getty/Houston Museum of Natural Science