“Irving Berlin has no place in American music, he is American music.” – Jerome KernThis statement by Jerome Kern (1885-1945), a notable composer of the early twentieth century, best encapsulates Irving Berlin’s dynamic career as a songwriter and foretells his lasting mark on American culture and society.Israel Beilin, later known as Irving Berlin, was born in Russia on May 11, 1888. In the mid-1890s, his family immigrated to New York City to escape persecution of their Jewish community. Shortly after arriving in America, his father died and his mother, Berlin and his seven siblings took a variety of jobs to support themselves financially.Berlin became a newspaper boy in the Bowery and was exposed to the music of local saloons and restaurants along his route. His father had been a cantor at their synagogue in Russia and his gift of song was passed down to Irving. Eventually hired as a singing waiter at the Pelham Café in Chinatown, Berlin was known to create on-the-spot parodies of hit songs to serenade his audiences.Irving Berlin was a self-taught pianist with a natural knack for writing lyrics. His first penned song was published in 1907, along with music by Pelham Café’s pianist Michael Nicholson. Named “Marie from Sunny Italy,” the sheet music listed his name incorrectly as “I. Berlin.” Though a mistake, he kept it and from then on was Irving Berlin – a name that would become synonymous with American music.His big break came in 1909 when Berlin became a lyricist for the Ted Snyder Company, one of the largest music publishers of popular sheet music. Later, the company would be named Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, Inc. when Berlin and Henry Waterson joined as partners. Under this label, Berlin penned “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in 1911 and it became a major hit. Irving Berlin soon after became a household name. His career spanned many decades and his songs offered hope and encouragement during times of hardship. Throughout two World Wars and the Great Depression, Berlin reminded the world that they should celebrate the small moments in life and embrace simplicity and happiness.By 1919, Berlin founded the Irving Berlin Music Corporation, which gave him full control of his copyrights. The composer’s outpouring of ballads led to Broadway musicals and films, including Puttin’ on the Ritz, Easter Parade, Annie Get Your Gun, and Watch Your Step. With over 1,500 songs and dozens of musicals and films, he worked with the top names of the business including Ginger Rogers, Marjorie Reynolds, Al Jolson and countless others. The lyricist was also a true American patriot. He was a rags-to-riches story and always felt that that could not have happened anywhere else but in America. He became a United States citizen in 1916 and served in the army during World War I, where he penned the musical Yip! Yip! Yaphank! The production was used as an Army fundraiser. Proceeds from the performances of this musical and his song ‘This is the Army’ were donated to the Army Relief Fund, which eventually totaled over ten million dollars.In 1925, Irving Berlin and Ellin Mackay met at a dinner party. She was the daughter of Clarence Mackay, the president of the American Post and Telegraph Company and granddaughter of John Mackay, one of the discoverers of the famous Comstock Lode of silver in Nevada.Mackay was one of New York’s most celebrated debutantes, however, at a young age she deviated from the elite world of the upper class. The society heiress took on a career of writing and was a prolific short-story writer and novelist in her own right. Throughout her life, she contributed stories to the Saturday Evening Post, The Ladies’ Home Journal, The New Yorker and many other popular magazines. Her first novel, Land I have Chosen, was published in 1944 and eventually it was sold to the movies. The whirlwind romance of Irving and Ellin caused an instant media frenzy. Constantly pursued by the paparazzi, they were often photographed together and followed throughout their day to day life. While the public relished in the couple’s love story, Ellin’s father disapproved of the match. He questioned Berlin’s industry and Jewish heritage and sent his daughter away to Europe at an attempt to keep the couple apart. Distance, however, could not separate Irving and Ellin. Upon her return to the States, the couple decided to quietly marry on January 4, 1926 in New York’s Municipal Court. Since their limousine was typically followed by the media, the couple rode the subway to the courthouse to avoid attention. This was a first for Ellin.As a wedding present, Irving Berlin presented his bride with the song “Always.” According to his notations on the earliest known manuscript of the song, Berlin wrote the piece while in Atlantic City in July 1925. He put together draft lyrics but later scrapped most of them; nevertheless, the last four lines of remained the same. Berlin has credited the success of the song to these last lines. “Not for just an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year, but always…” – a heartfelt tribute to his bride.Ellin’s father opposed the marriage and as a result she was barred from her family home. She willingly gave up her family’s multimillion dollar fortune for her marriage and a life with Irving. The inseparable couple started a family of their own and together had four children: Irving, Jr., Mary Ellin Barrett, Elizabeth Irving Peters, and Linda Louise Emmet. Sadly their son died in infancy, however, the tragedy of his death reconciled the relationship between Ellin Berlin with her father.Throughout their life together, Ellin Berlin continued to write for magazines and novels while Irving managed his company and composed. In 1942, the musical film Holiday Inn was released and starred Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, featuring music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The film debuted the eternally popular song White Christmas. The eight-line tune would become the best-selling single in history, selling over fifty million records. An instant sensation, the music critic Stephen Holden credited the song’s success to the fact that it “evokes a primal nostalgia, a pure childlike longing for roots, home and childhood.” The song also won Berlin the Academy Award for Best Music in an Original Song in 1943.Perhaps most impressively, Berlin composed the ever celebrated “God Bless America.” First sung by Kate Smith in 1938, the song became an unofficial national anthem for the United States and remains an important fixture of American society. Heard regularly at sporting events, religious services and other congregational occasions, the song, much like its composer, is a staple of American culture. Irving and Ellin Berlin’s patriotism is further exemplified by The God Bless America Fund. Established by the Berlins in 1940, the fund directs proceeds from Berlin’s patriotic songs and distributes funding to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Almost eighty years later, this fund is still operating today.In further recognition for contributions to his country, Berlin was presented with the Army’s Medal of Merit from President Truman in 1943, a Congressional Gold Medal for “God Bless America” from President Eisenhower in 1954 and a Freedom Medal from President Ford in 1977. In 2002, the U.S. Army base at Fort Belvoir, Virginia named the Army Entertainment Division (AED) World Headquarters “The Irving Berlin Center” in his honor.In 1962 after his musical Mr. President, Berlin retired and spent much of his time in the Catskill Mountains. Eventually, he and Ellin removed themselves from public life. Ellin Berlin died on July 29, 1988 and Irving Berlin died over a year later on September 22, 1989 at the age of 101.Though Irving and Ellin came from different backgrounds and cultures, together they formed one of the most enduring and loving relationships of the twentieth century. The Berlins were married for 62 years and through success and hardship, they enriched American culture and gave back to their country and community. The present lot, a ruby and diamond ring, was presented to Ellin by Irving on their fortieth wedding anniversary in 1966. Though the ruby is a traditional gift for this marriage milestone, this 4.59 carat gem chosen by Irving is truly rare. Mounted by Tiffany & Co., the quality of the ruby speaks to Irving Berlin’s keen eye for collecting gemstones and is a tribute to the love and dedication he had for Ellin. Christie’s is honored to present this lot and share in the great American love story that was Irving and Ellin Berlin.PROPERTY FORMERLY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ELLIN AND IRVING BERLIN

Set with a modified oval-cut ruby, weighing approximately 4.59 carats, flanked on either side by a bullet-shaped diamond, ring size 6 3/4, mounted in platinum, in a Tiffany & Co. black suede case
Signed Tiffany & Co.
Accompanied by report no. 1084918 dated 12 July 2017 from the AGL American Gemological Laboratories stating that it is the opinion of the Laboratory that the origin of this ruby would be classified as Classic Burma (Myanmar), with no gemological evidence of heat

Please note that the ruby is also accompanied by a report from the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute, please refer to the Jewelry department for further information
Ellin and Irving Berlin, thence by descent

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