By Ashley Davis
This diamond and colored diamond “toi et moi” ring was owned by the Bloch-Bauer family for a century before appearing at auction at Sotheby’s London this week.
London—The worlds of fine art and jewelry merged at Sotheby’s London Fine Jewels sale this week.

Headlining the jewelry auction was a “toi et moi” ring from the Art Nouveau period originally belonging to Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer and believed to have been worn by his wife, Adele, the subject of famed painter Gustav Klimt’s “The Woman in Gold.”

Set with a 2.19 carat round brown diamond and a 1.85-carat round near-colorless diamond, the ring was estimated to sell for approximately $6,322 to $8,850, but smashed those figures, garnering $55,318.

Of the piece’s historical significance, the head of Sotheby’s London jewelry department, Kristian Spofforth, said: “The story of this ring intertwines with that of one of the most iconic paintings in the history of art.

“Klimt immortalized Adele Bloch-Bauer in an armor of gold and jewels, demonstrating the rich dialogue between the disciplines in the Art Nouveau movement. The jewel is a glittering fragment of the opulence of early 20th-century Vienna. The simplicity of its design and its beautiful curved lines also make it a jewel of timeless modernity.”

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Adele Bloch-Bauer was a society figure and patron of the arts in turn-of-the-century Vienna. She was born into a wealthy Jewish Viennese family in 1881, and in 1899 married industrialist Ferdinand Bloch.

Together, Adele and Ferdinand were key players in the burgeoning capital of art, music, architecture, philosophy and literature, hosting creatives like Stefan Zweig and Arthur Schnitzler at their famed weekly salons.

Adele died of meningitis in 1925, at age 43. Klimt’s painting of her cloaked in gold and jewels (which actually was called “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”) was stolen by the Nazis, and was one of a handful of works belonging to the Bloch-Bauer family that relatives later successfully fought the Austrian government to return. The family's fight was the subject of a 2015 movie starring Helen Mirren called “Woman in Gold.”

As for the toi et moi ring, Ferdinand eventually gave it to his great-niece Helen Marie Stutzova as a wedding present. She in turn bequeathed it to her daughter, Charlotte Mayer.

The ring’s fascinating history doesn’t end there. It made its way to London in 1939 when Stutzova and Mayer fled to the English capital to escape the Nazis. Mayer became an accomplished sculptor in the United Kingdom and the ring remained in the family until its sale Tuesday to a private bidder.

For more sale results, visit Sotheby’s website.


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