Barbara Walters was a groundbreaking broadcast journalist and television personality with a career that spanned more than 60 years. She was one of the most recognized persons in the U.S., known for her interviews with some of the most iconic names in politics and entertainment. In addition, she was the first female co-host of a network news program and the first female network news anchor of a national evening news program.
Walters, who died in 2022, was also known for her style such as her collection of jewels. Now many of her jewels will be included in an auction by Bonhams auction titled “Barbara Walters: American Icon” in New York on November 6. The objects in her $8 million Upper East Side New York estate include a 120-piece jewelry collection worn by Walters at red-carpet appearances and while hosting her popular interviews. In addition to jewelry, the sale contains a collection of more than 300 lots of fine art, works of art and objet d’art. The net proceeds from the sale will benefit charities dear to Walters.
“Jewelry was incredibly special to Barbara Walters, and her collection included everything one could want in a jewelry collection: exceptional designs from renowned jewelry houses including JAR, as well as pieces from many American designers such as Harry Winston, Angela Cummings, and Seaman Schepps,” said Jean Ghika, Bonhams global head of Jewelry. “Walters clearly had a genuine love for jewelry, and it reflected a large part of her identity, acting as a form of armor and feminine adornment in a male dominated world. She lovingly wore all of her pieces regularly, both privately and in her professional capacity where she used the language of jewelry as a signifier. Her jewels of choice were big, bold, and audacious, which suited her personality. She wasn’t afraid to mix costume pieces with real gemstones – it wasn’t about value but the style and look, reminiscent of Coco Chanel’s ethos. For Barbara Walters, jewelry made her feel dressed.”
One of the star lots of the jewelry collection is a Harry Winston platinum diamond ring, an engagement present from Merv Adelson. The design features a 13.84-carat emerald-cut diamond of D color and VVS2 clarity, flanked by trilliant-cut diamonds weighing 1.46 carats. The ring was worn by Walters to many events including one in 1985 to honor the American GI liberators of World War II at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. Walters can be seen wearing the ring while sitting alongside her friend Elizabeth Taylor. Its estimate is $600,000 – $900,000.
Another important lot is an 18k white gold and diamond pendant necklace weighing 1.92 carats, hand-crafted for Walters by Harry Winston. The pendant is designed as a pavé-set diamond monogram with letters ‘BW’ suspended from a cable-link chain. Its estimate is $4,000 – $7,000.
Walters also collected jewels by Joel Arthur Rosenthal, better known as JAR. They include:
A pair of gemset earrings featuring alternating centers of either an oval-shaped spessartite garnet or rubellite tourmaline within a surround of garnets and tourmalines, further accented by round brilliant-cut diamonds. Its estimate is $200,000 – $300,000.
A pair of gemset paisley design earrings set with a variety of gems including peridot, tourmaline, sapphire and diamonds. Its estimate is $180,000 – $250,000.
A pair of gold and gemset earrings with a drop-shaped motif centered with oval-shaped tourmalines accented by round-cut yellow sapphires and diamonds. Its estimate is $150,000 $250,000.
Other jewelry highlights include:
A Belle Époque diamond bow brooch set with old-cut diamonds weighing approximately 11.00 carats. Barbara Walters wore the brooch on numerous occasions including to Sir Elton John’s 60th Birthday party held at Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York in 2007. Its estimate is $15,000 – $20,000.
A ruby and diamond floral brooch set with invisibly set square-cut rubies and round brilliant-cut diamonds. It was worn at the Eighth Annual Night of Stars Fashion Festival at the Waldorf Astoria in New York in 1991 where Barbara Walters is pictured alongside Audrey Hepburn (top image). Its estimate is $12,000 – $18,000.
An Ostertag diamond bracelet with an openworked design, set with old-cut diamonds with an estimate of $40,000 – $70,000.
A diamond and 18k gold brooch, set with round brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 28 carats. Its estimate is $15,000 – $20,000.