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Society Art Curator Who Once Bit A Fellow Air Passenger Claims She Nabbed A $6 Million Tiara For $35,000 July 12, 2021 (0 comments)


New York, NY—The next time a customer asks you for a deep discount on a major piece, consider the socialite who snagged a bejeweled tiara at Christie’s for less than 1% of its purported value. Image: The tiara, at upper right, is part of a jewelry suite; via Instagram

Page Six ran a story about Stacy Engman, a Manhattan socialite well-known in art circles, who outbid rivals for a tiara created by French jeweler Mellerio, a brand that dates back to the 17th century and was known to be Marie Antoinette’s jeweler. She paid $35,000 for a piece she claims is worth $6 million.

An art curator who “did her master’s degree at Sotheby’s in London,” Engman says she is extremely familiar with Mellerio, having visited the brand’s archives in Paris and seen some of Marie Antoinette’s jewelry in the safe. It’s she who says it’s worth $6 million; representatives from Christies told Page Six they did due diligence and had multiple experts review and appraise the gold and amethyst piece and that it was, in fact, properly priced.

It’s somewhat fitting that Engman should be an expert on Marie Antoinette’s jeweler, as the two women seem to share a similar sense of entitlement. Marie Antoinette was famously extravagant at a time when the peasants of France over whom she and her husband, Louis XVI, ruled were starving, although whether or not she ever actually said “let them eat cake” is up for debate. Engman, however, was charged with assault after biting a fellow passenger on a flight from Istanbul to New York and slamming the armrest into the woman’s leg along with spewing multiple insults after the woman objected to Engman spreading out her belongings over multiple seats.

Back to the bargain tiara. Regardless of whether Engman's or Christie's appraisal on the Mellerio tiara is closer to the truth, better jewelers need to realize that the auction houses have become a serious competitor. Many of their lots are not estate pieces, don’t have provenance, and are new items available for sale at any time. And with online bidding, customers no longer need to travel to New York, Hong Kong, or Geneva or appoint a proxy for major auctions; they can flip open a laptop and shop from their couches.

Related: Auction Houses Online: A Competitive Game Changer For Luxury Jewelers

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