Thelma Chrysler (1902-1957) was the daughter of Walter Chrysler, railroad and automotive executive and founder of the Chrysler Corporation. Her father’s innovative and forward-thinking approach to the burgeoning automotive industry made him one of the wealthiest men in the United States. He reportedly received a record-breaking salary of $1,000,000 per annum in the 1930s.
As Walter rose to the very top of the automotive industry, he acquired multiple companies and was integral in the early stages of household names such as Buick, Dodge, and ultimately, the eponymous Chrysler. Additionally, Walter personally financed the construction of New York City’s Chrysler building. Walter chose to fund the building himself so that his children could inherit the landmark. The building has since been sold by the family and remains today an icon of Art Deco architecture. For his many achievements, Walter was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1928.
Thelma was considered a leader of New York society. She was renowned for her elegant style, both in her wardrobe and home décor. She appeared on the annual list of the ten best-dressed women in the country numerous times. Together with her husband, Byron Foy, they travelled the world and collected art and decorative pieces for their home at the legendary 740 Park Avenue apartment building. Remembered in her New York Times obituary as ‘the woman of the greatest taste in the current life in New York’, Thelma passed away in 1957 after a battle with leukemia. She generously donated a large part of her wardrobe to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in addition to fine art and furniture also given to the museum.
In 1958, Harry Winston purchased what was then known as The Louis XIV Diamond from the estate of Thelma Chrysler Foy. Although the provenance cannot be verified, it was considered that this diamond was possibly mined in India and could have been brought to France by the famed gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. Winston recut the diamond from its original 62.00 carats to 58.60 carats to achieve a D color and Flawless clarity grade. The diamond, now mounted in a tiara, was exhibited at the Musée du Louvre in 1962 in the Ten Centuries of French Jewelry exhibition.
In 1963, Winston sold the diamond, along with a 61.80 carat diamond, to Mrs. Eleanor Loder. Her estate sold the pair of diamonds at auction in Geneva in 1980. The current owner acquired the pair in 1983 from the buyer at the Swiss auction. This time, the diamonds had again been recut to weigh 54.03 and 61.02 carats and included in Notable Diamonds of the World. They were now referred to as The Geminis.
Christie’s is honored to carry on the legacy and journey of this important diamond. Now mounted in a necklace, the Chrysler diamond is poised to continue its distinguished heritage at auction that is aptly held in New York City.