A s a highlight of our April 2020 Magnificent Jewels auction, Sotheby’s New York is honored to offer extraordinary jewels from the collection of Cecile Zilkha. Renowned for her timeless elegance, dedicated philanthropy and lifelong interest in the arts, Cecile’s collection reflects her iconic sense of style and affection for objects of superlative quality and craftsmanship.
Cecile was born in Baghdad to Salim and Daisy Iny, who relocated to the United States in 1948. While attending a wedding at the Plaza Hotel the following year, she met Ezra Zilkha. The son of Khedouri Zilkha, Ezra was a scion of the illustrious Babylonian Jewish family that pioneered international banking and founded K.A. Zilkha, Maison de Banque, commonly known as Banque Zilkha. The couple married in February 1950, and Ezra established operations for his family’s banking business in New York.
While overseeing the global financial interests of the Zilkha family, Ezra and Cecile traveled extensively and formed close friendships with international social, political and cultural figures, including Ronald Reagan, Anwar Sadat, David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Jacques Chirac, Barbara Walters, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and others. A chronicle of their journeys can be found in Ezra’s personal memoir, From Baghdad to Boardrooms.
With Ezra, Cecile committed herself to a lifetime of philanthropy in support of education, the arts, and the disabled, and as benefactors they left an indelible impact on an impressive portfolio of charitable causes. Cecile focused her attention on The Hospital for Special Surgery and The Metropolitan Opera, where she served as a member of the Board of Trustees and its Vice Chairman. Later, she would be key to reviving the Metropolitan Opera and through her significant fundraising efforts, established "On Stage at the Met," which continues to promote the institution's efforts. Her accomplishments were honored by the Republic of France and in 2005 she was awarded Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
Cecile's impressive collection of jewelry evidences her impeccable sense of design and passion for quality, including timeless and elegant designs from Bulgari, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Harry Winston. Her affection for colored gemstones is demonstrated in the array of emerald, ruby and sapphire pieces, most notably an exceptional 21.40-carat Colombian emerald ring by Cartier. She demonstrated a keen eye for one-of-a-kind designs, like the dramatic emerald and diamond earrings by Bulgari with opposing emerald and diamond drops, or the beautifully-made ruby and diamond twist bracelet by Harry Winston. Her impeccable taste spanned centuries including 19th century diamond fringe ear clips, a Bulgari riviere necklace from the 1930s, a 1970s suite of sapphire and diamond jewelry from M. Gerard and modern pieces from Van Cleef & Arpels.
Sotheby's New York’s April Magnificent and Fine Jewels sales this Spring features an array of exceptional and signed jewels, together with remarkable precious gemstones, vintage and antique jewelry. Headlining the auction will be pieces from the important collection of Cecile Zilkha, alongside those from the collection of Marylou Whitney.
Explore Jewels from the Collection of Cecile Zilkha
Gold, Emerald and Diamond Brooch
Pair of Emerald and Diamond Earclips, Bulgari
Sapphire and Diamond Brooch, with Diamond Earclips
Brooch Estimate $200,000-300,000, Earclips Estimate $25,000-35,000
Emerald and Diamond Ring, Cartier
Pair of Colored Diamond and Diamond Earclips
Pair of Emerald and Diamond Earclips, with Emerald and Diamond Bracelet
Bracelet Estimate $150,000-200,000, Earclips Estimate $100,000 – 150,000
Ruby and Diamond Bracelet, Harry Winston
Ruby and Diamond Clip-Brooch, Bulgari, with Pair of Ruby and Diamond ‘Mystery-Set’ Pendant-Earclips, Van Cleef & Arpels
Brooch Estimate $30,000-50,000, Earclips Estimate $150,000-200,000
Emerald and Diamond Brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels, with Diamond Rivière, Bulgari
Brooch Estimate $80,000-120,000, Rivière Estimate $500,000 – 700,000