As the auction season heats up in New York, Sotheby's is preparing to stage the biggest jewelry sale since the Duchess of Windsor's auction and complement it with pre-Columbian gold, Old Master and Impressionist paintings. All the objects, set for sale Thursday through Saturday, are from the collection of the late Count and Countess Guy du Boisrouvray of France.
Their daughter, Albina du Boisrouvray, has put the collection on the block to benefit an association of charities established in memory her son, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud, who died in 1986 in a helicopter accident. The three-day auction is expected to bring $20 million to $30 million.
Du Boisrouvray, in a telephone interview, characterized her late son as "a loving, caring and giving person" who would approve of the foundation she has established. Beneficiaries include humanitarian, scientific, cultural, athletic and educational causes in Switzerland and the United States.
A skilled rescue pilot who studied at the University of Michigan, Bagnoud was killed at 24 in Mali while participating in rescue missions during the Paris-Dakar automobile race. His father, Bruno Bagnoud, is a glacier helicopter pilot, and Francois developed a passion for flying in his youth, Du Boisrouvray said.
The charitable association has already supported a worldwide movement for children's rights and given $5 million to the University of Michigan for the construction of an aerospace engineering building. Upcoming projects include a public tennis center and a summer series of concerts in Switzerland, Du Boisrouvray said.
The jewelry sale on Thursday night offers such treasures as a Cartier emerald and diamond necklace and a Van Cleef & Arpels sapphire and diamond necklace, each valued at $1.5 million to $2 million.
Italian landscapes and city views by Francesco Guardi and Impressionist landscapes by Eugene Boudin are among the top-valued works in the sale of paintings on Friday. Guardi's "View of the Island of San Cristoforo" is estimated at $3 million to $4 million. Boudin's "Venise, Vue Prise de San Giorgio," valued at up to $1 million, is his most expensive work in the sale. Three of Boudin's seaside views of Trouville are expected to sell for about $500,000 each.
Also on Friday, 80 works of pre-Columbian gold will go on the block. Highlights include an exotic necklace with twin alligator deities and stone inlays, expected to bring as much as $45,000.
The sale will wind up Saturday afternoon with an assortment of artworks, silver and porcelain.