Marie-Antoinette necklace fails to sell at London auction

Dec 12, 2007
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A model displays a necklace once owned by the last queen of France, Marie-Antoinette - Photo : Leon Neal/AFP
LONDON, Dec 12, 2007 (AFP) - A necklace containing pearls once owned by the last queen of France, Marie-Antoinette, failed to sell at Christie's auction house in London Wednesday,December 12th, a spokeswoman said.

The necklace of pearls, diamonds and rubies was made from pearls and precious stones confided to Lady Sutherland, the wife of the British ambassador to Paris, before the queen was beheaded by guillotine in 1793.

It was withdrawn from sale after failing to reach the guide price of between 350,000 pounds and 400,000 pounds (488,000-557,000 euros, 716,000-818,000 dollars), a Christie's spokeswoman said.

Austrian-born Marie-Antoinette, the wife of king Louis XVI, was arrested in 1790 during the French Revolution and condemned to death by the first republican government.

The pearls were smuggled out of France by Lady Sutherland, a British aristocrat, as part of an unsuccessful plot to help the queen escape.

The pearls were made into a necklace in 1848 for the wedding of a grandson of Lady Sutherland and it has remained in the family ever since.

Christie's had hoped the jewels could be acquired by the Louvre museum in Paris.

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