Betsy Bloomingdale: A Life in Style

The private collection of a legendary hostess who entertained in couture and Harry Winston jewels is to be offered in two parts at Christie’s — starting with Magnificent Jewels on 7 December in New York

Few society figures remain as iconic as Betsy Bloomingdale. A true emblem of glamour and style, she epitomised the confidence of a post-war United States — a moment in history in which the sun-soaked terraces and candlelit tables of southern California captured the world’s imagination. Forever draped in haute couture, jewels, and an irresistible smile, Betsy Bloomingdale was a woman defined by joyful elegance.

Synonymous with style, glamour, and philanthropy, her private collection — Betsy Bloomingdale: A Life in Style — will be offered across two Christie’s sales, beginning with iconic pieces from her jewellery collection in the Magnificent Jewels auction on 7 December in New York. In this video, Senior International Director of Jewellery Tom Burstein discusses the collection and takes a closer look at some of the standout pieces.

A diamond cluster necklace by Harry Winston (with a photograph by Cecil Beaton of Betsy Bloomingdale wearing the necklace, not shown). Estimate $400,000-600,000. This lot is offered in Magnificent Jewels on 7 December 2016 at Christie’s in New York, Rockefeller Plaza

A diamond cluster necklace by Harry Winston (with a photograph by Cecil Beaton of Betsy Bloomingdale wearing the necklace, not shown). Estimate: $400,000-600,000. This lot is offered in Magnificent Jewels on 7 December 2016 at Christie’s in New York, Rockefeller Plaza

From a young age, the collector absorbed the hallmarks of good taste in the California fashion: a combination of intuition and confidence. ‘To me, style in anything you do, whether dressing, entertaining, collecting, whatever, is a sureness of choice,’ Mrs. Bloomingdale remarked in her later years. ‘It can be learned, it can be developed, but to be successful, it mustn’t be perceived.’

A diamond ring, by Harry Winston. Estimate $1,300,000-1,800,000. This lot is offered in Magnificent Jewels on 7 December 2016 at Christie’s in New York, Rockefeller Plaza

A diamond ring, by Harry Winston. Estimate: $1,300,000-1,800,000. This lot is offered in Magnificent Jewels on 7 December 2016 at Christie’s in New York, Rockefeller Plaza

In 1946, Betsy Bloomingdale married department store heir and future Diners Club chairman Alfred S. Bloomingdale, the ‘father of the credit card’, with whom she would have three children. Throughout the latter decades of the 20th century the Bloomingdales came to stand as influential figures in business, politics, culture and fashion. With homes in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, they inhabited the world of the newly inaugurated jet set.

Among their inner circle, the Bloomingdales counted some of America’s most notable families: names such as Kempner, Buckley, Forbes, Paley, Annenberg and, most famously, Reagan. 

A diamond cluster brooch, by Harry Winston. Estimate $100,000-150,000. This lot is offered in Magnificent Jewels on 7 December 2016 at Christie’s in New York, Rockefeller Plaza

A diamond cluster brooch, by Harry Winston. Estimate: $100,000-150,000. This lot is offered in Magnificent Jewels on 7 December 2016 at Christie’s in New York, Rockefeller Plaza

On 7 December, a group of stunning Harry Winston jewels is to be offered as a single-owner section within our Magnificent Jewels sale taking place in New York, including an impressive diamond ring, a diamond cluster necklace, a pair of cluster earrings and a diamond cluster waterfall brooch.

Part II of Betsy Bloomingdale: A Life in Style, a standalone sale featuring the contents of Mrs. Bloomingdale’s Hollywood Regency villa, one of the final remaining extant and complete commissions by designer William Haines, is to be offered in the spring of 2017.