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Reflections on Iconic Style

Beladora’s Russell Fogarty Shares Insights on Betsy Bloomingdale’s Legacy and Recent Christie’s Auction.

Reflections on Iconic Style
Photo: The Bloomingdale's 'Little Black Tie' Dinner at their Holmby Hills estate, Los Angeles, California, October 29, 1959. Getty Images

“Betsy Bloomingdale owned so many classics,” says Beladora founder and jewelry expert Russell Fogarty about the late socialite and legendary entertainer whose home décor, jewelry and couture pieces were offered in a series of recent auctions including last week’s sale, “A Life In Style”, at Christies.com.

“She collected a veritable cross section of the finest jewelry designers of the time and her pieces were special and identifiable,” adds Fogarty. “You knew at a glance what was what because she chose quintessential, iconic designs, immediately recognizable as by a particular maker.”

A Diamond, Citrine And Ruby ‘Bird On A Rock’ Brooch, By Jean Schlumberger, Tiffany & Co.; Photo courtesy of Christie’s

While Bloomingdale’s collection may not have had the breadth and depth of say, well-known jewelry lover, Elizabeth Taylor, she had truly impeccable taste that resonated with quality if not quantity. “Most of her jewelry was from the 1950s and 1960s and the pieces were truly iconic,” says Fogarty. When she bought Tiffany’s, she bought the marvelous Bird on the Rock brooch. From Harry Winston came the classic diamond wreath necklace, fabricated as only Winston did, maintaining the same width around the neck without sparing any expense or quality of design by tapering.”

A Diamond Cluster Necklace, By Harry Winston; Photo courtesy of Christie’s

Bloomingdale’s bigger jewelry items were sold on Christie’s during a December 2016 event, but the recent auction (ending April 6th) is a time capsule of sorts and a fascinating glimpse into Bloomindale’s world and the glamour of the life she lived.

“She was a leading figure in Reagan-era Los Angeles when LA was not only an entertainment capital, but also a political arena, says Fogarty. “She mixed politics, entertainment, art and fashion in the most elegant way and her dinner parties were legendary. ”

From interiors by decorator William Hanes (who designed the Holmby Hills home where Bloomingdale entertained luminaries from the art, political and Hollywood world), to Adolfo kimonos and vintage David Webb earrings, there is a clear story being told throughout the offering of items.

“She bought the best of the best,” says Fogarty, “It may not always have been the most expensive, but it was always the most iconic, and tasteful.”

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