Looking for Mabel Normand

Madcap Mabel Normand

1931GEM AUCTION

In Mabel Normand’s jewelry box were 173 pieces

estimated to be worth over $100,000.

By

Marilyn Slater

 

 

After her death on February 23, 1930, Mabel’s gems became part of her estate that was to be liquidated by the orders of the executor, Lew Cody, her husband.  In her Will, Mabel had left her things to her mother, Mary; her father had died just a short time before Mabel had passed away. Mabel had set up a trust for her family almost ten years before and the auction of her collection of gems along with the auction of her real estate would be added to the cash her family would receive; her mother, Mary, her kid sister, Gladys and her older brother, Claude and his wife, Winfred.

 

The auction of her gems was held December 7, 8 1931 at the Hall of Arts Studio, 1757 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, almost 2 years after her death.  On December 7, there were about 200 people at the auction.  Police were on guard over this treasure but the Depression was now a reality; there was little money available to spend on trinkets and gems that was once in the pockets of her friends and admirers, the collection only made around ¼ of its estimated value.

 

The auctioneer indicated that a number of socially prominent people were bidding on items but only a few names were mentioned. It was reported that most of jewelry was sold to unnamed dealers, including a bracelet, which contained a 2-carat Sapphire, 6 small sapphires, a 1 ½-carat diamond and 518 other diamonds! This piece was worth $10,000 but sold for just $1,685; there maybe over 500 engagement rings with Mabel’s diamonds in them being worn, even today.

 

The individuals recorded as winners of a few of Mabel’s gems were mentioned in various newspapers.  Mabel’s 7 ½ Star Sapphire, worth $3,500 went for $300 to Miss Bankhart, one of Mabel’s admirers; Mabel’s sister Gladys bid $1,500 on a $8,000 solitaire diamond, this may have been a ploy to increase the price which no one bit on and Gladys ended up buying her own ring.

 

Jim (James) Morley, the original owner of the Los Angeles Angel baseball club won the 3 ½-carat diamond for $710.  Jerry Mayer, the brother of Louis B. Mayer of MGM bought Mabel’s marquise diamond worth $10,000 for just $2,500. 

 

In the Los Angeles Times is a picture of Jeanette (Jeannette) Lewis wearing 3 pieces of Mabel’s jewelry, which she acquired at the auction, a cuff bracelet worth $10,000, a ring valued at $5,000 and Mabel’s trademark pendant valued at $4,000 with 272 small diamond but worth far more to any fan, who saw it on her in Molly O. 

 

Jeanette Lewis was mentioned in a Time Magazine article dated August 10, 1931, the summer before her winter trip to California. She was in Newfoundland willing to loan the government the funds the province needed.  …”Miss Jeannette Lewis drove up to Montreal’s swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel, registered, and let it be known that ‘myself and my associate’ were ready to lend Newfoundland not only the $8,000,000 it asked for but $109,000,000. Of this amount, $10,000,000 was immediately available in cash’.  Miss Jeanette Lewis made her money on Canadian Northern Railway, coal and other mines…

 

Bess Meredith (Meredyth) paid $900 for two 3 ¼ carat diamonds and 46 small ones although this is all the description printed, these were likely a set of Mabel’s hatpins.  Bess Meredyth was a scenarist, an award-winning film writer of The Affairs of Cellini (1934) and she did the adaptation of The Unsuspected (1947), she was also a silent film actress. Bess was the wife of the Casablanca director Michael Curtiz. Bess was one of the 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

 

This was a difficult time as many formerly very rich people had loss their money.  On the same page of the paper with the information regarding the auction of Mabel’s jewelry was two articles reflective of the period.  Mabel’s friends Rosetta & Vivian Duncan, who at one point were said to be worth over $4,000,000 were now bankrupt according to Vivian …”Gold mines with no gold, worthless stock, the fickleness of Wall Street and signatures on too many dotted lines’ were responsible.

 

Although not a friend on that same page was the story from New York, where Yvonne de Voe, a dancer smashed a window in order to land in jail … “for it is warm in jail and there is something to eat.”

 

JEWELRY FOR AUCTION DEC 8 1931

HALL OF ARTS STUDIO
1757 NORTH HIGHLAND AVENUE
MABEL NORMAND AUCTION
DECEMBER 7, 8, 1931 200 people
173 PIECES WORTH $100,000
ITEM   EST BUYER PRICE  
BRACELET            
  2 carat Sapphire, 6 small sapphires 1 1/2 carat diamond & 518 small diamonds    $   10,000.00 dealer  $   1,685.00  
cliff    $   10,000.00 Jeanette Lewis  uk   
288 diamonds with larger stones          
RINGS
 $20,000.00 Solitare Diamond    $     8,000.00 Gladys Normand, sister  $   1,500.00  
3 1/2 carat Diamond    uk  Jim Morley, LA Sportsman  $      710.00  
7 1/2 carat Star Sapphire    $     3,500.00 Miss Bankhart, admirer  $      300.00  
6 carat Marquise cut    $   10,000.00 Jerry Mayer  $   2,250.00  
Long ring    $     5,000.00 Jeanette Lewis  uk   
5 carat set with 48 smaller diamonds          
Pieces
 HAT PINS 2-3 1/4 carat Diamonds & 46 small ones    uk  Bess Meredith  $      900.00  
Pendant & Chain 272 small Diamonds    $     4,000.00 Jeanette Lewis  uk   
wriswatch platinum & diamond    $     2,000.00