Christie's is selling all lots in this sale as agent for an organization which holds a State of New York Exempt Organization certificate. Seller explicitly reserves all trademark and trade name rights and rights of privacy and publicity in the name and image of Doris Duke. No buyer of any property in this sale will acquire any right to use the Doris Duke name or image. Seller further explicitly reserves all copyright rights in designs or other copyrightable works included in the property offered for sale. No buyer of any property in the sale will acquire the rights to reproduce, distribute copies of, or prepare derivative works of such designs or copyrightable works.
Verdura: Aristocrat turned Hollywood Celebrity
An elegant, charming and flamboyant designer, Verdura was the darling of both Hollywood and the international society crowd. Born in 1898 and christened Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, he was the only son of an eccentric Sicilian family. With the death of his father in 1919 and subsequent inheritance and title "Duke of Verdura", he spent the next few years exploring and traveling in Europe. In 1919, Verdura met Cole and Linda Porter while they honeymooned in Palermo. They were immediately taken by his zest for life and obvious flair, and at a weekend fête in Venice several years later, they introduced him to Coco Chanel. Soon after, Verdura began to work for Chanel as a textile designer and later began to redesign her outmoded jewelry. The now iconic Maltese cross cuff bracelets were typical of his bold designs and he enjoyed success as Chanel's head jewelry designer for eight years. He left Europe for America in 1934 and toured the states making contacts. Verdura began designing jewelry for Paul Flato in New York and when his Los Angeles boutique opened, Verdura was the natural choice to run it. His charming animal jewels, elegant wrapped hearts, blackamoors and mythological creations won him a loyal following in Hollywood with clients such as Gary Cooper, Millicent Rogers, Marlene Dietrich and Jack Benny. Verdura eventually returned to New York and with the financial support of Vincent Astor and encouragement from Cole Porter, opened his own business at 712 Fifth Avenue. Despite the turbulent war overseas, the boutique was a huge success. Friends such as Diana Vreeland and the Duchess of Windsor adored his seashell brooches-often purchased from The Museum of Natural History gift shop and transformed into wearable jewels. Today, Verdura pieces continue to be produced by the firm's owner, Ward Landrigan.
Doris Duke bought many pieces of Verdura jewelry from the 1940s through the '60s. The exquisite suite of pink topaz and diamond jewelry, lots 89, 90 and 91 showcase both Verdura and Miss Duke's love of color. The citrine crossover necklace, lot 55, and the feather brooch, lot 74, are pieces either influenced by Paul Flato or created while working under him. The necklace was created with several of Miss Duke's own stones, while the vanity case, lot 56, was altered to her taste. Verdura created many vanity cases over the course of his career. More than twenty cases were fashioned for Cole and Linda Porter to celebrate Mr. Porter's opening shows. The selection of Verdura jewels in Doris Duke's collection represent the best of his talent. Containing color, charm and style and executed in an innovative way.