Want something to remember Marlene Dietrich by? Her favorite piece of jewelry, described by Sotheby's as "a dazzling Important Ruby and Diamond Bracelet" and estimated to be worth $300,000 to $400,000, is to be sold by the auction house in the fall.
"It was the only piece of jewelry that she kept," her grandson Peter Riva said Tuesday from Paris, where he has been sorting through papers and possessions of the actress, who died there May 6 at 90. "She also loved her emeralds, but she lost them, probably to the IRS for back taxes. She hung on to the ruby bracelet through good and bad times.
"As best as we can determine, in 1938 or 1939, Erich Maria Remarque, at that time a companion of my grandmother, suggested to her that she take all her bits of jewelry and make them into one fabulous piece. It is made up of diamond earrings, a diamond necklace, matching ruby bracelet and earrings, a couple of pins, all told 30 things," he explained.
Dietrich wore the bracelet in Alfred Hitchcock's "Stage Fright" in 1950, then locked it in a vault. Despite her fondness for it, she never wore it again. Riva said he was not sure why. "It is such a large, ostentatious piece, that if you think about postwar America, she probably didn't want to wear it for reasons of taste," he said.
Riva, a literary agent, intends to be at Sotheby's for the auction on Oct. 19 and 20.