Bonhams’ “Barbara Walters: American Icon” jewellery sale nets $5 million

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Bonhams presented the estate of Barbara Walters: American Icon across two sales, live on November 6 and online from October 29 – November 7. The trailblazing broadcaster’s collection fostered much anticipation and international acclaim, achieving top registrations for the live sale and competitive bidding for the online sale. Results from both sales totalled $5 million and as directed by Barbara Walters (1929-2022), a committed philanthropist, the net proceeds of the sale will benefit charities dear to Walters. 

“We are privileged to have been entrusted by the Walters family and estate to offer the personal collection of this American icon,” said Bruno Vinciguerra, CEO of Bonhams and The Bonhams Network. “Our team has been dedicated to presenting every facet of Walters’ unparalleled life through this remarkable collection. We’re thrilled with the worldwide enthusiasm this collection garnered and are proud to have delivered strong results – befitting the enduring legacy of Barbara Walters.” 

The collection came from Walters’ Upper East Side home where she lived for three decades and presented an impeccable array of jewelry, art, design, as well as cherished objects from her career and personal life. After embarking on a worldwide tour, making stops at Bonhams’ salesrooms in Boston, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Hong Kong, the collection garnered widespread international interest in the lead up to the highly anticipated auction in New York. Crowds of Walters’ fans visited the preview in New York which presented the collection alongside an exhibition that paid tribute to her impressive career. 

Barbara Walters: American Icon was 99% sold for the 135-lot live sale. The live sale achieved the highest number of registrations for a US sale this year with registrations coming from 29 different countries. Even more participation turned out for the online sale, with fans eager to acquire something once cherished by Walters at approachable estimates. With competitive bidding and multiple extensions over the final four hours, the 238-lot online sale was 100% sold.

Walters’ impressive collection of fine jewelry, presented in the live sale, achieved white glove results. A highlight of the 94-lot collection was Walters’ engagement ring from Merv Adelson, a Harry Winston Diamond Ring, weighing 13.84 carats, which sold for $699,000.

Walters was on the exclusive list of clients that Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR) selected to wear his unique pieces, creating bespoke designs inspired by the individual. For Walters, JAR created bold and audacious designs which suited her personality. Three bespoke JAR Gemset Earrings sold for $229,100 (lot 93), $229,100 (lot 78), and $203,700 (lot 86).

November 13 2023