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PaperCity Houston December 2021

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remarkable talent paired with a hypnotic personality. According to his granddaughter-in-law Carol Jenkins McCluer, he was not especially tall, but definitely handsome, even in his later years, and had a huge personality, a charisma that was impossible to resist. He was always impeccably dressed in an elegant suit and carried a vintage Louis Vuitton satchel wherever he traveled. She also remembers attending lavish entertainments in Mexico, after she married Flato's grandson, Charley, including one that included a large troupe of indigenous musicians and dancers at a grand estate in Cuernavaca. By the time the devastating earthquake hit Mexico City in 1985, his family was becoming increasingly concerned about the almost deaf 85-year-old living so far away. During the quake, the family lost touch with him for several days until one of Cathie's friends tracked him down on a ham radio. A local Fort Worth news station went to Mexico City following the quake and did a live interview with Flato, where he declared on television that he was sleeping when the huge earthquake hit, and that "his bed had not shaken like that for years." Final Years + the Legacy of Flato In 1990, Flato returned to Texas and his family, living with daughter Cathie Dennis in Dallas; and that year Barbie and Charles McCluer hosted a 90th birthday party for him at their home in Fort Worth. He spent his remaining years with his family, compiling notes and his memoirs until his death in 1998 in Fort Worth at age 98. By the mid-1990s, publications were extolling the golden- age of Hollywood jewels and several exhibitions resulted — Paul Flato was once again receiving recognition as one of America's first great jewelry designers. Auction values and name recognition has continued to grow as he's rediscovered by a new generation. In 2010, Elizabeth Irvine Bray, a jewelry specialist at Christie's auction house, published her book Paul Flato; Jeweler to the Stars. Bray had become curious about Flato while cataloging the jewelry of tobacco heiress Doris Duke, which featured several important pieces by Flato. Flato's auction prices have continued to rise. In 2018, an open-hinged diamond- and-platinum necklace circa 1940 sold for $492,500, according to Jill Burgum, senior director of fine jewelry at Dallas-based Heritage Auctions. Almost a century later, the continued admiration of Flato's bold, distinctive body of work stands as a testament to his brilliance. Vivian Leigh bejeweled in Flato, 1939 Paul Flato Moonstones in a Vogue editorial, 1939. Above: Original receipt for Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean. Right: Sugarloaf-cabochon sapphire, carved emerald, and diamond brooch, circa 1937. (Continued from page 90) Contributing Fort Worth editor Atlee Phillips directs the Texas Art depart- ment for Heritage Auctions. 92

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