GENEVA (AP).- Sotheby's
says it will auction jewels belonging to a former American World War II spy who married into Spanish aristocracy and rubbed shoulders with world leaders and Hollywood celebrities.
The auction house says the collection of necklaces, brooches and earrings featuring emeralds, diamonds and rubies belong to New York-born Marie Aline Griffith.
Griffith worked for the CIA's predecessor OSS in Madrid during World War II before marrying a Spanish nobleman to become Countess Alina de Romanones.
Sotheby's says the jewels go under the hammer in Geneva on May 17 along with others once belonging to the Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, a $10 million-emerald tiara and an 11-carat pink diamond valued at up to $16 million.
Highlighting the Noble Jewels section are also jewels from the Collection of the Excelentísima Sra. Condesa vda. de Romanones. A Grande de España, the Countess of Romanones has led a life of adventure, mystique and glamour, inspiring many of her best-selling novels.
Born Marie Aline Griffith Dexter in Pearl River NY, she was recruited to become an OSS agent in Madrid during World War II before marrying Don Luis de Figueroa y Perez de Guzmán el Bueno, Count of Quintanilla in 1947. Hosting some of the most lavish parties of the time, the Countess of Romanones counted in her vast and eclectic circle world leaders, members of the European aristocracy as well as key players in Hollywood.
Encapsulating the magnificent poise of the Countess of Romanones are an emerald and diamond demi-parure from the 1960s (est. CHF 100,000-150,000/ $103,000-147,000), a ruby and diamond necklace/brooch combination from the 1970s (est. CHF 80,000-150,000/ $81,500-147,000) and a pair of ruby and diamond pendent earrings, 1950s (est. CHF 14,00018,000/ $15,000-20,000).
Testament to the Countess close relationship to the Duke and the Duchess of Windsor is an important Cadenas diamond bracelet/watch, gifted to the Countess by the Duchess herself. Dating circa 1936, this exquisite piece signed Van Cleef & Arpels was purchased the same year by Wallis Simpson (est. CHF 46,000-63,000/ $49,900-68,500). Documenting the first years of perhaps the greatest love story of the 20th century, the reverse of the watch case is engraved with a facsimile of the Duke of Windsors handwriting, then King Edward VIII: For their 3 anniversary, 12.III.36, and our Tub, 17.III.36
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.