Before Elton John, Madonna or Lady Gaga dominated the world stage with their outrageous costumes and over-the-top performances, there was Liberace – a charismatic showman whose onstage presence combined the glitz of Las Vegas with a dash of quaint but endearing schmaltz. For nearly two decades, Liberace (1919-1987) was the world’s highest-paid entertainer, earning as much as $300,000 per week and garnering some 40,000 fan letters per month.
Eye-popping diamonds and flashy clothes were Liberace’s trademark, both onstage and off. He took pleasure in giving gifts of jewelry and apparel from his lavish wardrobe to friends in his inner circle, which included a man named James Myers. When Myers died in 2005, he bequeathed his treasured archive of Liberace mementos to his mother, Helen. Now a nonagenarian, Mrs. Myers has chosen to consign the unique collection to Mid-Hudson Galleries, who will offer it in a 425-lot auction on Dec. 3rd.
A top jewelry highlight is Liberace’s signature 14K gold and platinum ring set with marquise, round and baguette diamonds forming the shape of a candelabrum. A heavy, oversize piece that easily could be adapted to fit a woman’s finger, the ring is known to have been one of Liberace’s favorites. “This ring makes a statement – it definitely says ‘Liberace,’” said Mid-Hudson Galleries’ owner, Joanne Grant.
Also ranking among Liberace’s most treasured jewelry items is the 14K gold open-link chain with diamond-laden pendant created from an 1881 US $10 gold piece. It is prominently visible in the photo of Liberace that appears on the cover of his book The Wonderful Private World of Liberace. Yet another highlight is Liberace’s large and impressive gold-nugget watch with a diamond face and diamond surround.