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Works by the original celebrity jeweler featured at Bonhams New York Fine Jewelry Sale
Opal Tiffany Necklace. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Works by the first jeweler to the stars, the infamous Paul Flato, will be included in Bonhams April 15 auction of Fine Jewelry at the Madison Avenue salesroom. Flato’s 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 jewelry 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 Jewelry. “We’re seeing a renewed interest in bold, unique eighteen karat gold jewelry dating from the 1970s and 1980s.”

Confident trend-setters looking for gold statement jewelry 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 jewelry that speaks to their individuality - whether amorphic or architectural, humorous or spiritual. It is fine jewelry that is meant to be worn,” explained Virginia Salem, Director of the Jewelry 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 color (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 centered by a cushion shaped diamond approximately 6.50 carat ($70,000-90,000).

Bonhams Fine Jewelry auction will take place April 15 in New York, immediately following a Prominent Private Collection of Fine Jewelry. The sale will preview April 5-7 at Bonhams Los Angeles, and April 11-15 at Bonhams New York.

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