Fred Leighton’s Personal Collection of Jewelry Goes Up For Auction
Fred Leighton is one of the renowned names in the jewelry business. The retailer’s pieces appear at red carpet events on A-listers and have been for years. The roster of clients reads like a who’s who of style-setting celebrities and the pieces are an exquisite mix from all centuries, including inspired pieces designed in the style of the Georgian through Deco period. As an antique and vintage jewelry aficionado and collection, I have been a long time fan of the shop and the man behind the legend, who was born Murray Mondschein and whose personal collection will be on view for a week before it goes up at auction on April 18 at Sotheby’s NY.
The sale is entitled The Jeweler’s Eye: The Personal Collection of Fred Leighton. It will feature a selection of the treasured private rare art, decor, furniture, silverware and jewelry that span the 17th through 20th centuries that Leighton collected from his travels around the globe.
Leighton who passed away in July of 2017 at the age of 85 was born in the Bronx. His father was a cab driver and mother, a homemaker. When he returned from the Army in 1959, he purchased a clothing store, specializing in Mexican wedding dresses in Manhattan’s West Village, which was named “Fred Leighton”. It became a go-to for those looking for pieces that were different. When he took in a range of Victorian consignment pieces, he knew that he was on to something and from there began to transform the way New Yorker’s viewed estate jewelry. He began buying pieces from different time periods and famous provenances including The Duchess of Windsor, Diana Vreeland and Brigitte Bardot. In 1986, he legally changed his name to Fred Leighton and moved the shop to Madison Avenue.
He is known as one of the pioneers in the estate jewelry business. While others were breaking apart jewels for the diamonds and other gemstones, Leighton’s uncanny ability to spot rarity and authenticity and the intrinsic value of the pieces as a whole propelled him into the spotlight and onto the red carpet and with stars of the screen and the fashion scene. The legend lives on today, Leighton sold the business in 2006 and which is now owned by Greg Kwiat with original designs in the antique style by Rebecca Selva. But Leighton continued collecting and these are the types of pieces we will see in the auction. If you live in New York, try and get to the preview.
In the meantime, throughout the article are some highlight of the jewelry that will be on sale at the Sotheby’s NY auction on April 18, 2018.