Pieces of jewelry owned by actress Vivien Leigh were up on the auction block Tuesday, including a ring given to her by her husband, actor Laurence Olivier.
London--America fell in love with Vivien Leigh when she played Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind,” and a recent auction of her personal belongings showed people are still enamored with the British actress.

On Tuesday, Sotheby’s London auctioned off 321 lots from the personal estate of Leigh, who rose to fame with that iconic 1939 role.

20170927 LeighActress Vivien Leigh stepped into the spotlight after playing Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” in 1939. Cecil Beaton took this photo of her in 1947.
She also starred in “Anna Karenina,” “Caesar and Cleopatra” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” among many other films.

The Vivien Leigh Collection comprised paintings, jewelry, clothing, furniture and other items from her life, spanning her pre-war years in London to her Hollywood days to her death in 1967, and the auction house sold them all.

The pieces offered a unique look at Leigh’s private life, including the city and country homes she shared with her husband, actor Laurence Olivier, and her appreciation of art and patronage of British artists, books, entertaining and interior design.

It also included, of course, pieces of jewelry from her personal collection, showcasing her love of mixing historic jewels with contemporary couture.

Bow motifs in particular appeared in her wardrobe a number of times, the auction house said.

And, in fact, it was a large mid-19th century diamond bow brooch that led the jewelry lots during the sale (pictured below), going for well above its pre-sale estimate high of about $47,300 when it garnered $62,475 Tuesday. It was No. 6 overall in the sale.

20170712 Leigh brooch

This was followed by a gold ring from the 1940s engraved with a floral decoration and an inscription inside that reads, “Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally.” It was expected to sell in the range of $540 to $810, but ended up going for $50,655 during the auction.

20170712 Leigh ring

And then came Leigh’s charm bracelet, with a few of the charms representing some of the most memorable achievements in her career.

The six charms included: an oval locket inscribed “Lady Hamilton” with the initials “VL” with a photograph of Leigh as Lady Hamilton and a portrait by George Romney; a tiny book inscribed with the words “Gone with the Wind” with the pages inscribed “Vivien Leigh” and “Scarlett O'Hara” with an engraved image of the character; a round charm with a design of a boat against a sunset, the sky made of blue chalcedony; a jadeite pendant carved with a design of a bat; and two chalcedony drops.

The bracelet sold for $45,590 on Tuesday.

20170927 Charm bracelet

Rounding out some of the top jewelry lots was a wristwatch that likely was a gift from Olivier to Leigh for Christmas 1940, their first as a married couple. It features a manual winding movement, a circular dial with Arabic numeral indicators and shoulders set with calibré-cut rubies and single-cut diamonds, as well as an engraving on the reverse side that reads, “Vivien Larry Only!! Darling Xmas 1940.”

Later made into a link bracelet, it was estimated to sell for up to $1,620 but went for $33,770.

20170927 Wristwatch

Outside of jewelry, a highlight of the auction was a painting titled “Study of Roses” done by Sir Winston Churchill in the 1930s and gifted to Leigh in 1951. It was the top lot of the entire sale, blowing away all the other lots when it garnered about $862,824, well above it highest pre-sale estimate of $135,000.

Coming in at No. 2 was a painting by Roger Furse of Leigh reading aside her cat, Tissy, which went for $84,425, a record for the artist at auction. That was followed by an 18th century pier mirror that garnered $81,048.

Leigh’s bound copy of the final shooting script for “Gone with the Wind” went for $79,360, while a first edition of the book given to Leigh by Margaret Mitchell, and complete with a note inside, sold for $67,540.

The sale totaled a little more than $3 million, more than five times the pre-sale estimate.

Sotheby’s said that several items were acquired by a national collection, the details of which will be announced soon.

The full results can be found on Sotheby’s.com.

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