Diamond cigarette case, Van Cleef & Arpels, 1960s
4,000 - 6,000 GBP
bidding is closed
- Van Cleef & Arpels
- gold, diamonds
The rectangular case of basket weave design, applied with the Baroda Arms, set with circular- and single-cut diamonds, measuring approximately 125mm by 88mm by 10mm, signed Van Cleef & Arpels, numbered.
By family tradition lots 412 to 414 are from the collection of Maharani Sita Devi Sahib of Baroda 1917-1989, and were purchased by the current vendor directly from her son, Princie, during the 1970s.
Cf: Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes, '20th century jewelry and the icons of style', London, 2013, chapter 8, pages 176 - 203, for the Maharani Sita Devi Sahib of Baroda and her jewellery collection.
Sita Devi met her second husband, Pratap Singh Gaekwar of Baroda, at the Madras horse races in 1943, who was, at that time, considered the eighth richest man in world. The Gaekwad took her as his second wife, causing consternation with the British authorities, as this violated the antibigamy laws that the previous Gaekwad of Baroda enacted. The British Viceroy in New Delhi summoned the Gaekwad to contest this marriage. The latter argued that the law applied to the subjects of Baroda, and that he being their monarch was exempt from this law. This was confirmed by the Viceroy's legal advice and the British government accepted the marriage, but didn't refer to the Maharani as "her highness". In 1946 they went on a tour of Europe and America, where it is reputed they spent $10m million alone on one trip, finally taking up residence in Monaco. Attending some of the most exclusive events of the period they joined the jet set of the 1950s. One of the most memorable historical anecdotes was in 1953 when the Maharani sold a pair of emerald anklets to Harry Winston, who re-mounted the emeralds into a necklace that he sold to the Duchess of Windsor. At a New York ball the Duchess wore the necklace and the Maharani commented to a friend that she used to wear the emeralds on her feet, at which point the Duchess returned the necklace to Harry Winston. Sita Devi divorced the Gaekwad in 1956 but retained her title and continued to live a lavish life style from her Paris apartment. As her finances dwindled she was forced to slowly sell her jewels during the 1970s. The Maharani suffered a tragedy in 1985, when her son “Princie”, committed suicide one night when after his 40th birthday, attributed to alcoholism and drug addiction. Sita Devi died four years later of natural causes, some speculated due to a broken heart.