Bulgari retrospective includes Grace Kelly jewelry, draws crowds in Beijing 

“I always visit Bulgari, because it is the most important museum of contemporary art.” —Andy Warhol

The Bulgari Retrospective Exhibition, which was talked about the world over when it opened in Rome in 2009, is now in Beijing, the first time this magnificent collection of jewelry and art pieces culled from a more than 100-year-old art heritage is being put on display in Asia.

“Bulgari: 125 Years of Italian Magnificence” made waves in 2009 as soon as it opened grandly in Rome because it displayed, many of them for the first time, the Bulgari jewels of such global icons as Elizabeth Taylor, Anna Magnani, Claudia Cardinale, Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman and Gina Lollobrigida, who herself graced the opening at the Museum in Rome and later at the famous Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome.

This time, the exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing also has the same crowd-drawers, if not more, since the Beijing museum has bigger space, with seven projection galleries to run footage from the vintage movies where the jewels were worn by the stars.

While the Liz Taylor jaw-dropping baubles especially crafted for her by Bulgari through the decades had been pulled out and returned to the actress’ estate after her death this year, the Retrospective is not lacking in Hollywood glam star wattage, which perhaps explains why it continues to draw queues to the Beijing Museum.

It now includes some Bulgari pieces from the collection of the late Princess Grace of Monaco. Grace Kelly was the American actress whose marriage to Monaco’s Prince Rainier became the fairytale of the ’50s. This retrospective has her Bulgari coin necklace and cigarette case.

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Bonhams Fall salon jewelry and watches sale a starry success

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Bonhams auction of Salon Jewelry and Watches on September 19 in San Francisco brought more than $1.17 million, with star-studded lots from both Austrian-born actress Hedy Lamarr and the Estate of songwriter, composer, conductor and playwright Meredith Willson and his wife Rosemary. Proceeds from the Estate will benefit the Meredith and Rosemary Willson Charitable Foundation.

Property from the Collection of Hedy Lamarr sold marvelously, with a diamond, turquoise, ruby and cultured pearl pendant-brooch, sold for $11,875 (est. $3,000-5,000), headlining during the sale. Also from the Collection was a diamond and orange stone flower brooch, sold for $5,000 (est. $1,200-1,800); and a reverse painted rock crystal and diamond clip-brooch, sold for $2,750 (est. $800-1,200).

Property from the Estate of Meredith Willson and his wife Rosemary also brought great results, with such items on offer as a diamond bracelet, sold for $5,625 (est. $4,000-6,000); a diamond cluster ring, sold for $4,750 (est. $4,000-6,000); and a pair of diamond pendant earclips, sold for $4,375 (est. $3,000-4,000). 

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Estate Liquidators See A Frenzy Of Speculation

The high price of gold and other precious metals is encouraging a new breed of gold diggers — traveling estate buyers who temporarily set up shop in hotels. They offer to pay cash on the spot for gold, diamonds, old Rolexes and collectibles.

Walking into one such event at a hotel, it all seems very professional: A fancy conference room with a 20-foot conference table, with soothing bossa nova music playing overhead.


Retiree Earl Lawson, 75, looks like he could be a guest at the hotel. Instead he's at the Bellevue Hyatt, cajoled by his wife into trying to sell a few things.

"I brought in some Lladro pieces to be looked at, to see if they were worth anything," he says. They're porcelain figurines made in Spain.

"My wife had collected them over the years, and she said we're downsizing the house and we need to get rid of some of this stuff," Lawson says. "So, we saw the ad in the paper and said we'd bring it over here rather than going on eBay."

But it turns out eBay has decimated the Lladro collectibles market, according to traveling estate buyer Brian Bartholomew.

"Of the things that he had there," he says of Lawson's offerings, "you used to go to Lladro and it'd cost you $1,200 for some of the items. And now they're going for $30 on eBay."


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