Monday, May 22, 2023

The Mellon Family Jewels Are Headed to Auction

 From Town&Country Magazine, May 17:

Bijoux from the storied American dynasty will be part of the Magnificent Jewels sale at Sotheby's.

When philanthropist, horticulturalist extraordinaire, and Jackie Kennedy's bestie Bunny Mellon—widow of Paul, a scion of Pittsburgh's Mellon banking dynasty—died in 2014, her vast collection of art, furniture, jewelry, and decorative objects, from Rothkos and rare blue diamonds, to cabbage porcelain and the wicker baskets for which she was legendary, came up for auction at Sotheby's. It was a five-day extravaganza featuring more than 1,500 lots that brought in $218 million.

Mellon provenance, in other words, is always something worth paying attention to. So when a small selection of important bijoux belonging to women from another branch of the family recently emerged from the family vault, Sotheby's Jewelry SVP Frank Everett, who was closely involved in that Bunny auction, didn't miss a beat. "As the years go by, every time we get a great collection from a great name, I think it's going to be the last one," he says. "When this call came, my ears stood up when I heard "Mellon" and "Pittsburgh." I said, 'Ok, get me on a plane. I'm going right now.'"

The women in question here are Constance Prosser Mellon and her daughter, Constance Barber Mellon, who went by Connie. (Eleven jewels that belonged to them will headline the Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels sale in New York next month.) Constance Sr. was married to Richard King Mellon, a cousin of Paul, nephew of Andrew (the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1921-1932 and Paul's father), and a grandson of patriarch and Mellon Bank founder Thomas.

While his uncle leveraged his business acumen to secure a cabinet appointment and Paul became famous for the prizewinning thoroughbreds, blue-chip art, and fabulous real estate (a sprawling estate in the Virginia countryside, plus homes in Antigua, Nantucket, Paris, and New York) he collected with Bunny, Richard stuck to the family business—and he and Constance stayed close to the family seat in Pittsburgh, raising the city's profile as a milieu as worthy of midcentury American royalty as New York, Washington, or Boston. The Mellons gave generously to local causes and institutions—and made home base their 18,000-acre estate, Huntland Downs, in Ligonier, 50 miles from Pittsburgh.... 


And at Sotheby's:

The whole Magnificent Jewels catalogue

The Mellon rocks

Also, with Father's Day approaching (hint, hint):

55 minutes to bid, but still time!!