On Thursday 22 February from 2.30pm, all eyes will be on the Osenat auction house in Paris for the second part of an incredible auction: the jewellery set from the collection of the madly in love couple Raymond and Suzanne Fischof-La Foux. Proceeds from the auction will go to the eponymous foundation, which is supported by the Fondation des Petits Frères des Pauvres to fund initiatives to help the elderly.
Two photos of the Fischof-La Foux couple. Photo: Osenat
Some couples are more discreet than others. Raymond and Suzanne Fischof-La Foux have made this discretion a way of life. But who was this couple, whose dazzling jewellery collection will be on display in a few days’ time?
Born in Paris in 1905 to an Austrian father and a Turkish-born mother, Raymond was officially naturalised as a French citizen on 1 January 1911. In 1929, he married Raymonde Laurent, daughter of Marguerite Marie Alibert, whose turbulent life brought him into contact with Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, with whom she had a relationship between 1917 and 1918.
An engineer by training, he joined the Resistance in 1940, particularly the BRICK network. He was awarded the Resistance Medal and the Military Medal with Palms. On 18 October 1945, he obtained permission from the French government to change his name and add “La Foux” to his birth name, as he had fought and joined the Free French Forces under the name Raymond La Foux.
In 1954, he was made an Officer of the Legion of Honour. His career took him into advertising, and then his uncle, Camille Bouché – editor-in-chief of Le Moniteur during the Great War and later owner of the newspaper – entrusted the paper to him when he retired in 1955. He surrounded himself with a number of prominent figures, including Jacques Pilpoul, a graduate of the Ecole Centrale and a lawyer, who was editor-in-chief until 1972. In 1970, Mr Fischof-La Foux sold the paper to Edouard-Camille Didier, head of Usine Nouvelle.
After the war, in 1950, he married Suzanne Auclert – Saint-Jean, at the Georges V hotel in Paris. Suzanne was to remain at his side until his death in 1980, when she took her husband’s name. He continued to work in the property business and became involved in the political life of François Mitterand, who was Minister at the time, becoming one of his economic advisers.
With his wife, they organised business dinners and also invited the entire French cultural and artistic intelligentsia. The couple were art lovers, and their flat on Avenue Foch became the nerve centre of their collection, which included fine furniture, silverware and paintings by Derain, Boldini and Kisling, who was a friend of the couple.
Suzanne Fischof-La Foux. Photo: Osenat
Suzanne (born in 1920 in Melun), for her part, knew Raymond because he was a friend of her family. After many years in New York, she returned to France and renewed contact with Raymond, who had just divorced. After her marriage, the couple moved into a beautiful flat on the Avenue Foch and maintained a social life, entertaining and going out a lot. Their friends included Grace Kelly and Roger Moore. The couple were regular guests at the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco.
Art and beautiful objects are at the heart of their lives. And, of course, jewellery is not far behind. Raymond is constantly giving his wife exceptional pieces of jewellery. She was a loyal customer of Van Cleef & Arpels and the jeweller M. Gérard, whose pieces will delight collectors at this magnificent auction. In 1980, Raymond died at the age of 74, leaving behind a wife who will cherish his memory until the end of his life in 2023.
Choosing the pieces I wanted to talk to you about in this sale proved to be much more complicated than expected, given the exceptional nature of the collection. I chose ten pieces whose design, materials and hallmarks told stories that were as beautiful as they were moving.
1- A Van Cleef & Arpels set with colourful flowers
Lots 23 and 24: ring and earrings signed and hallmarked by Van Cleef & Arpels, cira 1970s. Gold, coral, chrysoprase and diamonds. Estimated at €3,500-5,000 for the ring and €5,000-8,000 for the earrings. Photos: Osenat
If there is one totally signature motif at Van Cleef & Arpels, it is the daisy, which has been given many interpretations over the years. The daisy appeared in the 40s, daisies in the 50s. Later, coral flowers were used in the “Paradisier” set created in 1995. The set comprising lots 23 and 24, in gold, coral, chrysoprases and diamonds, is completely representative of the 1970s and the light-hearted spirit of that era, when jewellery allowed itself to be as free as it liked.
The combination of pink coral and chrysoprase is completely iconic in the company’s creations, and can be found, for example, in the Delphes sets. There are countless models and variations dressed in green and pink, to the delight of lovers of colour and cheerful jewellery
2- A fine Art Deco bracelet representative of its era
Lot 25: Art Deco platinum and diamond bracelet. Estimated at between €200,000 and €300,000. Photo: Osenat
With its geometric shapes, perfect balance and remarkable diamond-cut work, this bracelet meets all the criteria for what we liked in Art Deco jewellery up to the early 1930s. Far from the delicate motifs of the Belle Époque, this opulent piece is as remarkable for the quality of its manufacture as for the quality of the diamonds that make it up.
The two central stones are G-certified in colour and boast more than respectable weights of 7.94 and 7.90 carats respectively. I would have liked to tell you the hand that made it, but there is no legible hallmark. So, of course, I can think of many houses that have made pieces as sublime as this one. An anonymous piece, but what a piece!
3- Mauboussin Tutti Frutti earrings
Lot 26: A pair of 1920s earrings in white gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. By Mauboussin. Estimated at between €10,000 and €15,000. In photo 2, Suzanne at a dinner party wearing the earrings. Photo: Osenat
Remarkably worn by Suzanne in the accompanying photo, this pair of Tutti Frutti earrings is representative of an era when the imaginations of the maharajas and legendary India gave birth to fabulous pieces of jewellery. In 1901, Alexandra of Denmark ordered a necklace from Cartier to go with Indian dresses given by Mary Curzon, wife of the Viceroy of India.
But it was not until the 1910s that the stones directly entrusted to Cartier by the maharajas of Patiala and Kapurtala gave life to pieces that have become iconic, such as the ” Hindu necklace ” by Daisy Fellowes. Among the houses that have honoured this style are Mauboussin, of course (in the image of these fabulous earrings), but there are also many lesser-known names.
4- An André Vassort convertible necklace for Mr Gérard
Lot 29: transformable necklace in gold, diamonds and rubies. Mr Gérard, signed and numbered. Estimated at €60,000-80,000. Photo: Osenat
A jeweller with Van Cleef & Arpels, Louis Gérard set up his own company in 1968 with the help of his friend the Comtesse de Ribes. ” I have only one desire, to create and make the most beautiful jewellery in the world “, he declares, and there’s no doubt that he would be delighted to see the current craze for his jewellery. His company may have closed for good in 1991, but his jewellery is forever.
A genius creator and gemologist, Louis Gérard was accompanied throughout his life by the best Parisian workshops. The Atelier André Vassort, registered in April 1943 and located at 34, rue Saint-Anne, and a manufacturer for Van Cleef, was there, as in this transformable necklace from the Médicis collection, the back of which can only be worn as a bracelet. Finally, a piece in the same spirit as this one was sold in Paris in 2020 for over 230,000 euros.
5- A 23.35-carat diamond
Lot 33: Platinum ring signed Cartier set with a 23.35-carat diamond, gradation D VS1. Estimated at between 800,000 and 1,000,000 euros. Photo: Osenat
This imposing Type IIa diamond weighing more than 23 carats is a stone as exceptional as it is beautiful. This type of diamond, known as a “Golconde-type diamond” when it is old and dates from before the discovery of mines in South Africa, is particularly sought-after for its purity and its particular transparency due to the absence of nitrogen in its structure. There’s no doubt that this stone will delight collectors who appreciate its quality and elegance.
6- Colour, colour, colour! But Van Cleef & Arpels!
Lot 37: Gold, diamond, enamel and coral bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels. Circa 1970. Estimated at between €15,000 and €20,000. Photo: Osenat
The return of pink and green, but with a combination of coral and enamel. It particularly caught my attention because enamel was not the house’s material of choice in the 70s and 80s, whereas chrysoprase was everywhere, in every possible and unimaginable form. There were a few enamelled pieces, mainly brooches and bracelets.
The way it looks and the way it sits on the wrist make it one of my favourite pieces in the sale. I wasn’t familiar with this model, which I think is really beautiful. Many pieces of jewellery were designed especially for her, and this bracelet may well have been. As the hallmark is illegible, I can’t tell you more about its exact provenance in terms of the workshop. Whatever the case, you can’t help but be interested!
7- Cartier earrings
Lot 40: Platinum and gold, coral, diamond and emerald earrings. Circa 1970. Estimated at between €8,000 and €12,000. Photo: Osenat.
Coral is everywhere in this sale. And this pair of earrings is totally in keeping with the times. As far back as the 1930s, Cartier showcased bracelets with chimera heads sculpted from the finest coral. One example is the bracelet made in 1928 for Ganna Walska to a design by Charles Jacqueau, the heads of which were sculpted by the lapidary Dalvy.
In the 1950s, a pair of earrings in the spirit of the one shown here was made for the French actress Josette Day. The 70s saw the return of these incredible sculpted pieces, featuring orientalist motifs. Bracelets, necklaces, rings and earrings adorned with flamboyant coral became part of the wardrobe of the most elegant ladies. Suzanne Fischof-La Foux is no exception.
8- A convertible necklace by André Vassort for Van Cleef & Arpels
Lot 49: transformable necklace in gold, coral, turquoise, amethyst and diamonds. Van Cleef & Arpels. Circa 1970. Estimated at between €70,000 and €100,000. Photo: Osenat
The modularity of the pieces was one of the specialities of the Vassort workshop, whose jewellery-making talent needs no further demonstration. This necklace, which can also be transformed into four bracelets (2 all-gold pieces and 2 gem-set pieces), also contains a brooch in the spirit of the Delphes pieces that made Van Cleef & Arpels famous.
The 70s were a fertile period for jewellery. Colours, motifs, experimentation – nothing stood in the way of jewellers and designers who transcribed into jewellery an era of freedom and renewal. The mix of coral and turquoise was reminiscent of oriental jewellery, as 1971 marked the 2500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire. Throughout the 70s, the Far Eastern imaginary found a place of choice on the house’s pieces.
9- Colombian emerald pendants
Lot 57: Gold and platinum earrings with diamonds and Colombian emeralds. Van Cleef & Arpels. Estimated at between €20,000 and €30,000. Photo: Osenat
Emerald pendants were particularly popular with all jewellers in the second half of the 20th century, when they were used in a great many pieces. At Van Cleef & Arpels, it can be found on pieces from the 1920s, such as the necklace that can be transformed into two bracelets worn by the remarkable Daisy Fellowes. Another example is the set created in 1929 for Princess Faiza of Egypt.
Later, in the 1950s, the famous Hindu necklace was made for the Maharani of Baroda before being sold at auction in Monaco in 1974. Last time I checked, this marvellous necklace was part of the Faerber collection.
The earrings feature relatively large stones, measuring between 1.5 and 1.6 cm in length. These earrings are a fine example of what jewellers have been lucky enough to bring to the fore when it comes to remarkable stones.
10- Suzanne’s wedding brooch
Lot 63: Platinum, diamond and ruby brooch/necklace. Circa 1950. Estimated at between €3,000 and €5,000. The following three photos show Suzanne wearing the brooch as a necklace. Photos: Osenat
If ever there was a lot to talk about, it was number 63. And I find it quite moving to end this selection with this one. Firstly, because it is simply beautiful and elegant. But above all because it is remarkably worn by Suzanne in the photos of her wedding to Raymond, where she wears it as a necklace.
The combination of platinum, diamonds and rubies first appeared in the late 1930s. The 1937 exhibition featured many pieces in these colours. For Van Cleef, for example, mysterious settings and calibrated settings were also very much in evidence. Radiant shapes were used by a number of designers, including Verdura, who produced a striking brooch in diamonds and rubies in 53.
Among all the lots in this sale, this brooch stands out because it truly symbolises the union of this couple with their incredible history and their love of jewellery.
The sale will take place on 22 February in Paris from 2.30pm at 66 avenue de Breteuil in the 7th arrondissement. Please note that for certain lots, potential bidders will be asked to pay a deposit of 10% of the low estimate. For these lots in particular, there will be no internet bidding. Orders will close on Tuesday 20 February.
You will have the opportunity to admire the pieces on three not-to-be-missed occasions:
- In Geneva on 6 and 7 February at the Mandarin Oriental. From 3 pm to 8 pm on 6 February and until 1 pm on 7 February
- In Paris on 14, 15 and 16 February BY APPOINTMENT ONLY 66 avenue de Breteuil 75007 Paris from 9am to 6pm.
- Come to Paris on 19 and 20 February for the public exhibition at the Hôtel George V in the 8th arrondissement. From 2pm to 6pm on 19 February and from 10am to 5pm on 20 February.
Happy bidding and see you soon!