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A g re a t p i e c e o f jewelry can instill confidence in the wearer — particu- larly if it belonged to someone as rare as the jewel itself. A perfect example is the glamorous Marylou Whitney, whose second hus- band of 34 years was Cornelius Van- derbilt "Sonny" Whitney. The Amer- ican socialite and philanthro- pist, who passed a w a y in July 2019 at age 93, was a thoroughbred horse breed- er known as the Queen of Saratoga. Her noble reign was marked by a dedication to women's health and equine excel- lence that earned her the designation of First Lady of the Oaks by Chur- chill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Her bold and unabashed sartorial style was equally iconic. On Wednes- day, December 9, Sotheby's offers significant highlights from Whitney's collection in the Magnificent Jewels sale, including a 19th-century tiara, a carved emerald pendant by David Webb, and what may be the rarest find of all: a string of nat- ural pearls, e a c h o f w h i c h o c c u r re d spontaneously in the wild, purchased from Cartier in 1950. "To get a strand with this size of natural pearls would take years and years to put to- gether," says Cath- arine Becket, head of sales for M a g n i f i c e n t Jewels Sales. "I haven't handled a strand of this caliber since we sold pearls that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor 10 years ago." However, it's Whitney's tiara — a delicate, naturalistic crown completely encrusted in diamonds and rubies — that will likely garner the most attention. It was purchased from Harry Winston in 1952, and is stated to be from the Collection of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It's also the greatest representation of Whitney's personality. "She could certainly pull off a tiara, which is not something most people can do," Becket says. "She was widely known to be a force of nature — someone who lit up the room. To wear some- thing like that tiara or the David Webb ring takes confidence, and she had it in spades." Sotheby's Mag- nificent Jewels auction, led by the collections of Marylou Whitney, Ezra and Cecile Zilkha, and other private collections, Wednesday, December 9, in New York City; live online at 9 pm CST at The Bold and The BeauTiful By CAITLIn CLArK Above: Carved emerald pendant framed with sapphires and baguette diamonds by David Webb. Estimate $75,000 - $100,000. Left: Marylou Whitney's silver-topped gold, ruby, and diamond tiara, purchased from Harry Winston in 1952. Estimate $100,000 - $200,000. Marylou Whitney with Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney COURTESY SOTHEBY'S

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