The daughter of William Kissam Vanderbilt and Alva Smith Belmont, Consuelo became a celebrated debutante at her parents' Newport residence, Marble House, where in August of 1895 she met Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough. She married the Duke that autumn and returned to England to live at Blenheim Palace. The marriage was a notoriously unhappy one. She separated from the 9th Duke in 1905 and was officially divorced in 1920. The following summer she married the French aviator and her close friend, Jacques Balsan. Settling in France, they divided their time between the splendid 17th century Château de Saint-Georges-Motel, near Eure, Normandy and the hôtel Marlborough, Paris, both of which they filled with exceptional French furniture and works of art from the ancien regime. Fleeing to America and Palm Beach in 1940, much of Colonel and Madame Balsan's collection was recorded for posterity by L.-H. Prost, Collection de Madame et du Colonel Balsan, Paris, privately printed, circa 1930.