In Betty White’s Blockbuster Estate Sale, Jewelry Held Its Own

AuctionsSep 27, 2022

In Betty White’s Blockbuster Estate Sale, Jewelry Held Its Own

Fine jewelry comprised three of the auction’s top 10 lots, though it could not top her director’s chair or scripts from “The Golden Girls.”

Betty White’s signed 18-karat gold Van Cleef & Arpels brooch set with sapphires and diamonds sold for $21,875 at Julien’s Auctions recent three-day auction of the late actress’ estate. The brooch is believed to be a gift from her late husband, actor and game show host Allen Ludden.
Beverly Hills, California—It is an auction outcome befitting of one of the best-loved actresses in Hollywood.

From Sept. 23-25, Julien’s Auctions sold more than 1,600 lots of jewelry, clothing, furniture, artwork and assorted memorabilia from the estate of Emmy-winning actress Betty White, who died Dec. 31, 2021, at age 99.

Every lot in the auction sold, with many soaring past pre-sale estimates and the total exceeding $4 million, blowing away the original estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. 

While the top lot of the auction was a piece of memorabilia from “The Golden Girls” set, her jewelry made a strong showing, with three of the actress’ personal pieces landing in the sale’s top 10.

Her 14-karat white gold sapphire and diamond necklace sold for $35,200; only five of the auction’s lots garnered more.

The simple pendant, featuring a sapphire estimated to be between 7-8.5 carats and a half-carat round diamond, soared past pre-sale estimates of $1,000-$2,000, likely due in part to the high-profile screen time it notched.

White wore the necklace on episodes of The Golden Girls and the “A Girl Like Mary” episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” as well as to the Primetime Emmys in 1976, where she won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for playing Sue Ann Nivens on Mary Tyler Moore.

Another sapphire piece—this one a ring White wore on The Mary Tyler Moore show and The Golden Girls—sold for $32,000, against an estimate of $800-$1,200, making it the seventh most expensive lot in the sale.

SEE: Betty White’s Jewelry Sold at Auction
Rounding out the auction’s top 10 at No. 9 was White’s diamond and gold wedding band from husband Allen Ludden, while his plain gold band landed at No. 25 out of the more than 1,600 lots. 

Ludden and White married at the Las Vegas Convention Center on June 14, 1963, and they remained married until he died of cancer in 1981. White never remarried. 

Her wedding ring was white and yellow gold with 1.15 carats of round diamonds. It sold for $25,600, topping the pre-sale estimate of $800 to $1,200. 

His is engraved with the words “6-14-63 I really do” and went for $12,800. It was estimated at $600-$800. 

“You would be hard-pressed to find an individual as iconic and well-loved as Betty White, whose impact is absolutely multi-generational,” Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien’s Auctions, said. 

“This auction represented a collection unlike anything we have ever seen before which brought in record-breaking results and thousands of Betty’s most loyal fans from all over the world who participated.”

 Related stories will be right here … 

Other notable jewelry lots from “Property From the Life and Career of Betty White” include a signed vintage 18-karat gold Van Cleef & Arpels flower brooch set with sapphires and diamonds. 

Believed to be a gift to White from Ludden, the brooch had one of the highest estimates among the jewelry in the sale at $4,000 to $6,000 and did not disappoint, garnering $21,875. 

Another signed piece, a vintage Ruser 14- and 18-karat gold fortune cookie brooch, sold for $5,760, near the top of its estimated range, while a costume jewelry set—a pair of cream-colored ear clips and a matching ring White wore on several episodes of The Golden Girls—sold for $12,800.

The suite was estimated at $800 to $1,200. 
While White’s jewelry did well, it could not top the actress’ Golden Girls memorabilia.

The auction’s top three lots were all related to the sitcom, which remains popular 30 years after it went off the air.

The top lot overall was White’s director’s chair from The Golden Girls, which sold for $76,800 against an estimate of $1,000.

Two lots containing teleplays for both the pilot and final episodes of the show signed by White and the three other “Girls”—Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty—sold for $57,600 and $51,200, respectively.

And a buyer paid $32,000 for a lavender-colored silk dress with a bow collar and skinny belt White wore in 1986 publicity photos for the series. The pre-sale estimate was $600 to $800. 

To see the full auction results, visit the Julien’s website.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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