Sotheby’s to sell Ottoman Treasures
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily NewsSotheby’s Geneva has announced plans to hold a unique sale on Nov. 15 for a number of jewels that originally belonged to the Ottoman Treasury. “It is difficult to overestimate the rarity of such jewels. This parure is one of the most sumptuous suites of antique jewels I have ever seen and its appearance on the market after nearly 50 years in a private collection is a major event,” said David Bennett, the chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Department in Europe and the Middle East and co-chairman of co-Sotheby’s Switzerland.
Coming from a European private collection, the jewels have not appeared on the open market since 1963 and are expected to fetch $10 million.
Comprising a necklace, a brooch and a pair of earrings, the diamond parure dates from the mid-19th century and contains jewels which may have formed part of a gift presented by Empress Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great of Russia to the 23rd Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III (1673-1736) to negotiate peace after the Pruth River Battles. At the end of 1710, under the influence of Charles XII of Sweden, the Ottoman sultan declared war on Russia.
As remarkably related by Voltaire in his “History of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great (1759),” after days of siege, Catherine urged the czar to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In accordance with the Oriental custom, by which one should never approach a sovereign or their representatives without gifts, Catherine gathered all the jewels she had brought with her, both family heirlooms and gifts from her husband, and sent them in secret alongside the czar’s letter to the grand vizier. The gift of the jewels was duly accepted and a peace treaty was signed between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
The jewels from the Russian empress are believed to have then passed into the Ottoman Treasures. By tradition, they are said to have been used by the Sultan Abdül Hamid II (1842-1918) for the present that he offered to the wife of the Khedive Tevfik of Egypt, possibly on the occasion of the birth of their son and heir, Abbas II Hilmi Paşa Hanımefendi. The khedive’s wife, known as the “Valida Sultana” or “Valide Pasha,” became the most powerful woman of the region, succeeding her son as ruler of the state until 1914, when Egypt became an independent sultanate under a British protectorate.
Banned from British territory, the last khedive of Egypt and Sudan retired to Geneva His son, Prince Muhammad Abdul Moneim (1899-1979) was husband to Neslishah Abdul Moneim, who consigned the parure when it was sold to the current owner at Christie’s London on May 22, 1963.