Dali-designed starfish brooch sells for 1 million at Christie’s

This item belonged to Rebekah Harkness, founder of the historic Harkness Ballet

Courtesy of Christy

A starfish-shaped brooch designed by Salvador Dali and once owned by socialite Taylor Swift’s muse sold for $780,000 (with $982,800 commission) at Christie’s in New York on Wednesday (June 7), which called it a ‘surrealist’. The artist’ makes one of the most precious jewels. in the auction.

The «Étoile de Mer» brooch takes the form of a red and white starfish made of rubies, diamonds and a large pearl in the center. Dali designed the starfish with arranged branches with emeralds growing from its feet and also includes two attached butterflies made of diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. It sold below its estimate of $1–1.5 million.

The brooch belonged to Rhode Island socialite Rebekah Harkness (1915–1982), a Missouri native who married Standard Oil heir William Hale Harkness in 1947 in New York. Harkness founded the Harkness Ballet Company in 1964 after the Joffrey Ballet refused to change its name. In recognition of his donation to the company. During his company’s 11 years, he employed artists including Dalí to design backdrops for the shows. This project marked the beginning of a friendship between Harkness and Dalí, and when Harkness died in 1982, his ashes were placed in an urn containing $250,000 worth of jewelry designed by the artist.

In the song “The Last Great American Dynasty”, Taylor Swift sings about Harkness’s partying and infamous reputation: “She filled the pool with champagne and swam with the big names / And blew her money on boys and ballet / And lost bets to Dali, Swift draws comparisons between herself and the woman who once lived in her Rhode Island home, singing that both “they ruined everything,

Dalí signed a contract with jewelry maker Alemany & Co. in 1949 to bring his surrealist designs to life: the brooch worn by Harkness is the highest-priced piece of jewelry designed by the artist ever sold at auction.

Wednesday’s jewelry sale at Christie’s also included Dali’s drawing on paper for the “Étoile de Mer” brooch and another one inspired by the Greek mythological figure of Medusa. The gold brooch shows serpentine figures encrusted with diamonds, while Medusa’s eyes and mouth are made of sapphires and rubies. The Etoile de Mer sketch sold for $42,000 (including $52,920 commission) to the same bidder who bought the Starfish brooch, while the Medusa brooch sold for $54,000 (including $68,040 commission).

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