Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Medusa jewelry was auctioned off Tuesday: the ultra-rare piece fetched $3.65 million, more than 18 times its estimate.
The piece was sold at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels in New York.
Three determined bidders competed for almost 10 minutes for a gold, opal and demantoid garnet pendant, considered one of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s first creations.
The final price set a new auction world record for an item made by Louis Comfort Tiffany, famed artist and son of Charles Tiffany, founder of famed jewelry house Tiffany & Co. His original estimate was $100,000–$200,000. The motif of the pendant was inspired by the famous Greek gorgon, known for having venomous snakes in her hair, whose gaze could turn people to stone.
This piece was first exhibited at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, and later it appeared at a New York auction in 1943. But this is the first time in 78 years that it has appeared in public. The item had many owners, and for a long time it was considered missing.
Carol Elkins, senior jewelry specialist at Sotheby’s, said last week that the Medusa pendant “is considered the holy grail of Louis Comfort Tiffany jewelry.”
“The jewelry design is so striking and unforgettable that it will forever be remembered,” she continued. “[Из-за] of his unknown whereabouts there was always the hope that he would someday reappear.”
Overall, this recent Magnificent Jewels sale at Sotheby’s garnered the highest ever jewelry auction on the Sotheby’s New York trading floor, with 84% of lots sold and 68% of lots sold surpassing their high marks. It was attended by more than 45 countries around the world, with 74% of bidders participating in online bidding.