Marie Antoinette pearl pendant sells for record $32 million

GENEVA (AP) — A large, drop-shaped natural pearl pendant sold for a hammer price of $32 million at an auction of jewelry that once belonged to French Queen Marie Antoinette, which Sotheby's is calling a record price for a pearl at auction.

The "Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl," a diamond-and-pearl pendant, was among the highlight offerings on the block at the Sotheby's sale of jewelry from the Bourbon-Parma dynasty.

Like many of the 10 former Marie Antoinette pieces up for sale on Wednesday, the pendant obliterated the pre-auction — in its case, $1 million to $2 million.

The total tally was expected to rise with the inclusion of the "buyer's premium" and other fees.

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Marie Antoinette's jewelry goes up for auction
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Marie Antoinette's jewelry goes up for auction
The Queen Marie Antoinette Pearl and diamond pendant, from the 18th century, estimated at $1 million - $2 million, is displayed at Sotheby's, in New York, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. It is part of the "Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family," sale to be held Nov. 14, 2018 in Geneva. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl displayed at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The Pearl is estimated to fetch 1 million to 2 million USD. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A model wears Marie Antoinettes jewellery at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl and a diamond brooch is displayed at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The Pearl is estimated to fetch 1 million to 2 million USD, the brooch about 20,000 to 80,000 USD. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A superb diamond parure, left, estimated at $300,000 - $500,000, from the French Royal Family, and an natural pearl and diamond necklace of Marie Antoinette, estimated at $200,000 - $300,000, are displayed at Sotheby's, in New York, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. Both are part of the "Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family," sale to be held Nov. 14, 2018 in Geneva. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl is on display at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The Pearl is estimated to fetch 1 million to 2 million USD. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A model wears Marie Antoinettes jewellery at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl is on display at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The Pearl is estimated to fetch 1 million to 2 million USD. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A model wears Queen Marie Antoinette's natural pearl and diamond pendant earring at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The earrings are estimated to fetch 200,000-300,000 USD. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl is on display with matching earrings at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The Pearl is estimated to fetch 1 million to 2 million USD, the earrings are about 200,000-300,000 USD. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A model wears Queen Marie Antoinette's monogramed ring at Sotheby's in London, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The ring is estimated to fetch 20,000-50,000 USD. Jewels once owned by the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette will be going up for auction this autumn. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 file photo, the Queen Marie Antoinette Pearl and diamond pendant, from the 18th century, is displayed at Sotheby's, in New York. A large, drop-shaped natural pearl pendant sold for a hammer price of $32 million at an auction of jewelry that once belonged to French queen Marie Antoinette, which Sotheby’s is calling a record price for a pearl at auction. The “Queen Marie Antoinette's Pearl," a diamond-and-pearl pendant, was among the highlight offerings on the block at the Sotheby’s sale of jewelry from the Bourbon-Parma dynasty on Wednesday, Nov. 14. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
Two 18th century diamond and woven hair rings that belonged to Marie Antoinette, estimated at $20,000 - $50,000, are displayed at Sotheby's, in New York, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. They are part of the "Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family," sale to be held Nov. 14, 2018 in Geneva. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
An 18th century diamond broach that belonged to Marie Antoinette, estimated at $50,000 - $80,000, is displayed at Sotheby's, in New York, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. It is part of the "Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family," sale to be held Nov. 14, 2018 in Geneva. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Items that belonged to Marie Antoinette, that will be included in the "Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family" sale, are displayed at Sotheby's, in New York, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. The sale is to be held Nov. 14, 2018 in Geneva. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
A Hubner diamond tiara, circa 1912, estimated at $350,000 - $550,000, is displayed at Sotheby's, in New York, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. It is part of the "Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family," sale to be held Nov. 14, 2018 in Geneva. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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Sotheby's billed the sale as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to scoop up heirlooms and jewels that have been held in the Bourbon-Parma dynasty for generations. Some of the Marie Antoinette jewelry hadn't been seen in public for 200 years — until now.

The diamond and pearl jewelry that went under the hammer epitomized the aloof, pre-Revolutionary opulence of French royals brought down by the historic uprising.

Marie Antoinette, the wife of King Louis XVI, was executed in France's revolutionary fervor in 1793.

Before falling to the guillotine, she had secretly smuggled abroad some of her most treasured possessions to her relatives, amid swelling revolutionary fervor that ultimately marked the beginning of the end of France's centuries-old monarchy.

"The Marie Antoinette pendant is simply irreplaceable," said Eddie LeVian, CEO of jewelers Le Vian, said before the sale. "This is about far more than the gems themselves: Marie Antoinette's jewelry is inextricably linked to the cause of the French Revolution."

The queen's jewelry also included a set of pearl and diamond earrings, a diamond brooch, and a natural pearl and diamond necklace. A monogrammed, diamond-set ring bears a lock of Marie Antoinette's hair.

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