The legendary Moon of Baroda diamond – valued by its current owner at between $500,000 and $750,000 – is now on display at Christie’s in Los Angeles until October 20, and will be auctioned in Hong Kong on November 27 alongside a signed photo of Marilyn wearing it, as Jordan Riefe writes for the Hollywood Reporter.
“‘It’s gorgeous,’ said Marilyn Monroe when first gazing upon the Moon of Baroda; not a heavenly body to match her own, but a diamond, a rare 24.04-carat canary yellow gem pulled from the legendary Golconda mine, outside Hyderabad, in 16th-century India.
Monroe was on a publicity tour for her breakout 1953 comedy Gentleman Prefer Blondes with its unforgettable song, ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ when the Moon of Baroda became her best friend, on loan from Meyer Jewelry Company in Detroit.
Meyer Rosenbaum loaned it to the legendary actor for publicity purposes surrounding Howard Hawks’ classic comedy, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, co-starring Jane Russell, and photos of Monroe wearing it went viral.
What won’t add to its price is a rumored curse alleging that if the gem travels overseas, bad luck will come to its owner. Its 19th century stint in Austria ended with the death of Maria Theresa, and others claim that Monroe’s fortunes took a southward turn after wearing it in 1953, when Gentlemen Prefer Blondes launched her to stardom.”
UPDATE: The Moon of Baroda diamond has been sold at auction in China for $1.3 million – more than double its low estimate, as Christie’s reports.
Marilyn makes two jewellery-related appearances in this weekend’s Financial Times, firstly in this article about the diamond trade; and elsewhere, she’s pictured wearing pearl earrings at a press conference in 1956.
Thanks to Fraser Penney
Over at The Mmm Blog, Melinda Mason recounts her meeting with photographer Bert Stern – now 82 – at his ‘Jewels’ exhibition in Toronto’s Izzy Gallery.
“Marilyn fans the world over have fawned over Stern’s photographs that he took in July 1962 shortly before her death. Regardless of your view on whether he should have published photos that Marilyn herself had X’d out there is no denying his photographs are truly legendary. I am personally a big fan of this time period and Marilyn style and The Complete Last Sitting is one of my favourite books.”
Gallery owner Izzy Sulemanji was interviewed in Canada’s National Post:
“‘This is the top of the mountain to get Bert,’ Sulejmani says. ‘The biggest thing is that he’s coming, because if it’s not New York or a big museum, he doesn’t go for his openings.’
Now in his eighties, Stern rarely accepts interviews and makes few public appearances. But there was something about the friendly gallery owner that he liked. Sulejmani says that after remaining largely silent during a New York City business lunch two months ago, the photographer said at the very end, ‘You’re OK, Izzy. I like you. I’ll see you in Toronto.’ After signing the contract, Stern left.”
Photographs of Marilyn taken by Bert Stern in 1962 are included in a new exhibition, ‘Jewels’, running from June 16 – July 9 at the Izzy Gallery, Toronto. Stern’s portraits of Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Madonna and Kate Moss are also featured.