The Duchess of Windsor’s notorious jewellery collection was, and still is, the subject of intense speculation regarding not only its murky provenance (were the gems originally sourced clandestinely from the English monarchy’s vast royal collection?), but also its eventual controversial dispersal at the close of the 20th century during two celebrated auctions in Geneva and New York.
Despite the plethora of general biographical material generated by the Windsor story during the last fifty years, an in-depth, balanced account of the greed and deceit permeating the horde of stolen jewels and artworks they acquired over a lifetime of subterfuge and public denial has never been published.
The King’s Loot reveals for the first time through a careful examination of contemporary accounts, newly discovered source material, and interviews with surviving participants from the celebrated Geneva/New York auctions willing to go on the record (the Duchess’s French executor and colleagues/relatives of the Geneva auctioneer) the riveting story of:
• The full extent of King Edward Vlll’s looting of jewellery, artworks, furniture and priceless heirlooms from the Royal Collection, and the historic Crown conventions reinforced by successive British governments and constitutional experts he exploited to do it;
• The origins of some of the key pieces of jewellery Edward lavished on his mistress, Bessie Wallis Simpson, during his time as Prince of Wales, King of England, and Duke of Windsor;
• The sheer scale and magnitude of the thousands of gems and pieces of jewellery amassed by the Crown since Queen Victoria’s reign and an account of their acquisition that provided a virtual treasure trove of fantastic pieces for successive English monarchs;
• The machinations, manoeuvrings and deceits behind the spectacular 1987 Geneva “auction of the century” of the Duchess’s jewellery collection.
• A re-examination of the anomalies surrounding the bizarre burglary of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels at Ednam Lodge in 1946, the sensational consequences of the Windsor fraud, and a survey of possible suspects missed by the Police;
• The banal, final denouement in the mass sale of the Windsor’s personal possessions in New York, and the sad irony that was exposed by the eclectic buyers who reduced the Windsor’s spectacular avarice to a garage sale.
Armed with an Honours degree from the Australian National University, Richard Wallace became a journalist with the Fairfax newspaper organisation that included The Sydney Morning Herald, The Melbourne Age, The Canberra Times and the Australian Financial Review among its mastheads. Posted to Europe he covered the death of the Duchess of Windsor in 1986 and the subsequent Geneva auction of her jewellery collection in 1987. Leaving Fairfax, Richard joined the UK Independent shortly after its creation in 1986 at the request of eccentric founding editor Andreas Whittam Smith.
His focus was rese...
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