Of Palatial Proportions... Power Lunching... House Of Fog...

At least the Louvre got the piece it wanted from the aborted auction at Christie's New York last week of the 115-piece lot owned by jewelry and antiques...

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The Empress Eugénie brooch.

Photo By WWD Staff

OF PALATIAL PROPORTIONS: At least the Louvre got the piece it wanted from the aborted auction at Christie's New York last week of the 115-piece lot owned by jewelry and antiques collector Ralph Esmerian. The museum discovered that a brooch from the French crown jewels was to be part of the April 15 sale and was determined to bring it home. The piece in question is the François Kramer-designed diamond brooch and stomacher worn by Napoleon III's bride, Empress Eugénie, on her wedding day in 1853. But, as reported, the auction never took place so François Curiel, president of Christie's Europe, negotiated a private sale of the piece to the Louvre with Esmerian's agreement. In the sale's catalogue, Rare Jewels and Gemstones: The Eye of a Connoisseur, the piece was expected to fetch from $4 million to $6 million. The sale price to the Louvre was not disclosed.

The brooch fist hit the market in 1887 when the French government decided that the property of French kings and queens would be made available to the highest bidder at public auction. The piece was previously owned by jeweler Emile Schlesinger and was later purchased by American socialite Caroline Astor.

POWER LUNCHING: Laura and Jenna Bush must have worked up an appetite after appearing Tuesday morning on the "Today" show, where the First Lady was the program's guest-host and participated in several interviews, as well as book and cooking segments. Befitting true media mavens, mother and bride-to-be daughter were spotted later in the afternoon lunching at BLT Market in The Ritz-Carlton New York with three other women. "They didn't have a reservation," said the hostess, but were quickly accommodated and had a fast lunch. With Secret Service in tow, they left at 1:30 and got into a black unmarked car and made a quick getaway. Up next? An appearance tonight on "Larry King Live."

HOUSE OF FOG: Rick Owens is setting up shop in New York. The Paris-based designer, who originates from Los Angeles, is busy decorating his first Stateside store there, slated to open in August. "I'm working on an aquariumlike wall installation that contains circulating fog," said Owens of the space, situated on the corner of Dominick and Hudson in TriBeCa. The designer, who operates one store in Paris' Palais Royal, also revealed that he's negotiating a contract for a retail location in London.
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