ST. LOUIS – A rare piece of jewelry that debuted at the St. Louis World’s Fair sold at auction last week, smashing pre-sale estimates by more than 18 times.
Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction took in $57.1 million, the second-highest total for a jewelry auction at the company’s New York salesroom, the company said.
Famed designer Louis Comfort Tiffany, heir to the founder of Tiffany & Company, debuted 27 pieces of jewelry at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Jewelry publication JCK says Tiffany’s display at the 1904 fair included 10 hair ornaments, nine brooches, three necklaces, two pendants, one girdle, one hatpin, and one tiara.
Louis Tiffany, who is credited with developing a special type of iridescent glass and creating the Tiffany lamp design, tried his hand in jewelry design in the early 20th century in the years leading up to the fair.
Of the 27 pieces Tiffany debuted at the fair, the Medusa pendant is one of only four still in existence.
The pendant was last seen in public at a New York auction in 1943. It was long considered missing, but turned up in the Schocken Family Collection.
Prior to the Dec. 7 auction, the Medusa pendant was estimated to fetch between $100,000 and $200,000. The auction price soared and the pendant sold for $3.7 million, a new world record for a Louis Comfort Tiffany piece.
According to Sotheby’s, 84% of the pre-sale lots sold, with 68% of those items going for higher than their estimates.
The day’s big seller—a 6.11-carat Fancy Intense Blue Diamond ring—sold for $7.96 million.