Works by the first jeweler to the stars, the infamous Paul Flato, will be included in Bonhams April 15 auction of Fine Jewelry at the Madison Avenue salesroom.
Flato’s forward-thinking, whimsical creations were often worn on screen by devotees, and his impressive client list included Greta Garbo, Mae West, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Doris Duke, Ginger Rogers, Carmen Miranda, Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn, and Gloria Vanderbilt.
Flato was convicted of fraudulently pawning $100,000 in jewels in 1943 – a crime that sent him to Sing Sing penitentiary for 16 months. Upon his release he fled to Mexico City, fighting extradition charges for larceny and forgery, but eventually moving back to the US in 1953.
Flato returned to Mexico City in the 1970s, opening a fashionable jewelry store and living quietly in the rich and inspiring culture for several decades.
Bonhams will offer several of his creations from this period, including an eighteen karat gold and diamond “Double Longhorn” bracelet (est. $8,000-12,000), and a brass and eighteen karat gold cowbell necklace referencing the Mexican festival day for the Virgin of Guadalupe (est. $8,000-12,000).
“These extraordinary pieces, acquired by a family friend and admirer of Flato, demonstrate his creative, witty and inventive sense of design,” said Susan Abeles, Bonhams US Head of Jewelry. “We’re seeing a renewed interest in bold, unique eighteen karat gold jewelry dating from the 1970s and 1980s.”