Jewelry & Watches

The Boivin Starfish: Why This Rare Jewel Originally Owned By A Hollywood Icon Really Belongs in a Museum

T&C exclusively reveals that a Boivin Starfish brooch owned by Claudette Colbert has been acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts.
IMAGE COURTESY MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
Comments

How many jewels have this kind of charisma?” Lee Siegelson, a third generation rare jewelry dealer, has seen plenty of big jewels with big personalities: Paul Flato’s aqua and ruby belt necklaceBelperron’s chalcedony set made for the Duchess of Windsor. But the Boivin Starfish brooch created for Claudette Colbert in 1937—a year after she won the Oscar for It Happened One Night—well, it just has what some like to call “it.”

"The Boivin starfish represents the intersection of art and design, feminism and fashion.”

“Beauty and wit,” are two more specific adjectives Siegelson might use to describe the bold design—a fully articulated and naturalistic sea creature of rubies and amethyst that stretches four by four inches across. For Siegelson, “it represents the intersection of art and design, feminism and fashion.”


ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Starfish brooch designed by Juliette Moutard for René Boivin, 1937. 18?karat gold, ruby, amethyst

The brooch was produced at René Boivin under Jeanne Boivin (the sister of Paul Poiret) who took over her husband’s namesake company following his death in 1917, making her the first woman to ever direct a French jewelry house. It was designed by Juliette Moutard, who championed a bold avant garde approach to the art form.

Today it was announced that the Boivin starfish, perhaps the house’s most famous jewel, has been acquired from Lee Siegelson for the jewelry collection at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. “The story of the Starfish is the story of women,” says Emily Stoehrer, Rita J. Kaplan and Susan B. Kaplan Curator of Jewelry, the acquiring curator (and the only jewelry curator in the U.S.).


ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Claudette Colbert wearing the starfish brooch in Photoplay magazine, November 1939.

“About a year and a half ago we rewrote our collection strategy and mine had a focus on 20th-century designer jewelry, particularly works by women,” says Stoehrer. “This will be the first piece by Boivin in the museum’s collection. We have jewels with great provenance—an emerald brooch that belonged to Marjorie Merriweather Post, Bunny Mellon’s Schlumberger, pieces from Queen Mary and Sarah Bernhardt—but very few French pieces before this.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
BUY NOW: Diving for Starfish: The Jeweler, the Actress, the Heiress, and One of the World's Most Alluring Pieces of Jewelry, amazon.com

The Starfish is the subject of much fascination—it is believed four were created but there is debate—and was also the subject of a book published in 2017. Diving for Starfish by Cherie Burns chronicles the pieces many lives and many owners—including Millicent Rogers and Sao Schlumberger. 

The Starfish now owned by the MFA has been certified as the original created for Colbert in the 30s. Stoehrer first spotted it at Siegelson’s booth at The TEFAF Art Fair in New York and then again saw it again at a show in Miami. So when can you go visit the Boivin Starfish? “I am working,” says Stoehrer, “to get it on view this summer.”

*This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

Comments
Recommended Videos
About The Author
Stellene Volandes
View Other Articles From Stellene Volandes
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
Don't know where to start when shopping at Real Food? Bea Lhuillier, Katrina Mañosa, Honey Almedral, and Nicole Fandiño make your decisions easier with their list of top picks.
 
Share
"Stuff happens," Harry said. "But look, we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers."
 
Share
It underwent a serious restoration project to bring it back to its Victorian splendor.
 
Share
The bride and more than one entourage member wore Rosa Clará gowns.
 
Share
Emma Stone, Kris Jenner, Adele, Amy Schumer, and more celebrities came out to celebrate the newlyweds.
 
Share
It’s never a dull moment with your family, but that doesn’t mean you should succumb to becoming the entertainment.
 
Share
She's part of a rare breed of dedicated restaurant pastry chefs in the metro, and her future's looking pretty sweet.
 
Share
Queen Victoria was the first monarch to purchase Patek Philippe watches and started a trend among royals shortly after.
 
Share
Two luxury hotels in Athens and Crete offer the perfect late summer vacation-and surprising life lessons.
 
Share
The new HBO miniseries starring Helen Mirren recreates some of the Empress's famous jewels, which she used to cement her authority as an enlightened despot.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US