Joel Arthur Rosenthal, an American jeweler based in Paris whose work is signified by his initials, designed eighteen of the pieces in Safra’s collection. “These are the largest private collection of creations by JAR ever to be offered at auction,” Christie’s said. JAR, who produces close to eighty works a year for an exclusive clientele, designed most of the pieces specifically for Safra over the last thirty years. They include a ruby and diamond Camellia flower brooch, estimated to fetch $1.2 million to $1.5 million. The brooch features JAR’s signature technique of setting small stones closely together to form a pavement of jewels. “It must be an exceptional collection because Lily Safra and her late husband Edmond not only had unlimited means, but excellent taste in art,” noted Eric Valdieu, an independent jewelry dealer who used to work for Christie’s.
Last June, Sotheby’s auction house sold artwork, silver, decorative objects and furniture from the couple’s collection for approximately $45 million. But, according to Valdieu, it makes sense for Ms. Safra to have her jewels auctioned by Christie’s, given the Safras’ strong 30-year-plus relationship with Francois Curiel, international head of Christie’s jewelry department. “After Liz Taylor, Lily Safra – emblematic collections are now being dispersed,” said Valdieu.
The names Edmond and Lily Safra have become highly synonymous with a diverse array of philanthropic endeavors, including building Jerusalem’s Safra Square and sponsorship of a gallery at the Louvre in Paris. The proceeds from the Christie’s jewelry sale will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Royal Opera House in London, as well as several institutions researching Parkinson’s disease, which afflicted the late Edmond Safra.
Lily Safra has residences in New York, London, Geneva and Monaco. She was ranked at number 1,015 on the Forbes 2012 list of the world’s billionaires, with a net worth of $1.2 billion.