Jewelry pieces owned by Gina Lollobrigida became the highlight at Sotheby's auction in Geneva. During the auction that fetched a total of $78.2 million from the sales of 600 pieces of gems, the Italian actress' exceptional collection was sold for a combined of $4.9 million, becoming one of the top sellers.
Gina's 74.53 carat cushion-shaped fancy yellow diamond from the late 19th century formerly owned by the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty in Persia, Sultan Ahmad Shah Qajar, went under the hammer for a whopping $2.9 million. It set an auction record for such an item.
A pair of her natural pearl and diamond pendant earrings previously belonged to the historic collection of the House of Habsburg were sold for $2.3M. It beat the $1.98 million figure set from the 2011 sale of natural pearl and diamond earrings by Bulgari, owned by late actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Gina, a popular sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, was selling her jewelry to fund an international hospital for stem cell research. Other items sold from her collection included a Bulgari necklace and bracelet combination, and a Bulgari ring. Each was purchased for $776K.
"Jewels are meant to give pleasure and for many years I had enormous pleasure wearing mine. Many people tried to persuade me to sell them, but for a very long time I was unwilling. What changed, was seeing a little girl called Sofia suffering from a disorder, which could only be helped by stem cell treatment - treatment which she is unable to receive in Italy," she said of the sale.
The 85-year-old actress continued, "Selling my jewels to help raise awareness of stem cell therapy, which can cure so many illnesses, seems to me a wonderful use to which to put them. It is my hope that the Italian parliament will approve this ground-breaking treatment, so that children and adults in Italy should have free access to it without having to travel abroad at great expense. It now gives me great pleasure to see that these jewels will create a legacy which will live on after me and continue to do good."