The Metropolitan Opera has begun to raid its vaults to raise hard cash. An item of jewellery made in 1855 for Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, has been put up for sale next month at Christie’s Geneva.
The Feuilles de Groseillier brooch was presented to the singer Lucrezia Bori by Mrs. Vincent Astor, on behalf of colleagues of the Metropolitan Opera Board, on the night of her retirement in March 1936. Ms Bori continued to work as a fundraiser for the Met until her death in 1960, at which point the brooch passed under her will into Met ownership.
The sale is expected to raise between $2 and $3 million.
The brooch is said by insiders to be ‘the most valuable item’ in the Met archives.