Eisenhower, Dietrich, and the Bracelet That Slayed Hollywood
Right now, the jewels of philanthropist/designer Anne Eisenhower are touring the globe . . . and for only a few million, you can own a piece of Hollywood history.
Who among us hasn’t wished we could buy one of the most iconic pieces of jewelry in Hollywood history? Now you can.
On June 7, Marlene Dietrich’s Jarretière, a spectacular Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond bracelet designed by Louis Arpels in 1937 for the screen siren, hits the auction block at Christie’s New York as the centerpiece of the house’s Magnificent Jewels of Anne Eisenhower sale.
Dietrich famously wore the bracelet in the 1950 Hitchcock film Stage Fright, and later to the 1951 Oscars. (She was even rumored to have had an affair with Arpels, who fashioned Jarretière—the French term for garter—with gems from Dietrich’s own collection). Sold to Eisenhower, the New York philanthropist and interior designer, in 1992 for $990,000, the bracelet is expected to fetch between $2.5 and $4.5 million.
“Marlene Dietrich’s bracelet is so high drama, so Hollywood,” says Lisa Hubbard, Christie’s Jewelry Senior Advisor and a personal friend of Eisenhower’s, who died in 2022. “It’s the ultimate of everything—the greatest rubies, diamonds, mounting. It’s like nothing else you’ve ever seen. Who would have thought that Anne, who was reserved by nature, would be the one who would take it over from Marlene Dietrich?”
Following the acquisition, Eisenhower enlisted Van Cleef & Arpels to design an accompanying ruby and diamond necklace and earrings to complete her suite. All three creations will be included in the sale, along with more than 30 additional pieces from the collection.
So who was Anne Eisenhower? With a surname more closely associated with one of America’s great political families, the granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower and Mamie Eisenhower would seem destined for a life in politics rather than as a collector and style icon. The presidential grandchild grew up playing at the White House with her three siblings and even traveled with her famous grandparents as a teen, crossing to Europe on the original QE2 liner and meeting French President Charles de Gaulle.
“While some of my siblings and I pursued the public policy field and book writing, Anne, at her core, was driven by a pursuit of beauty and design,” says her sister, the author and policy analyst Susan Eisenhower. “When I was writing book reviews that warned of nuclear dangers, Anne was in the art studio painting impressionist daubs to work on and understand color. I always admired her talent. I always wished I had more of her style.”
Presented at the International Debutante Ball in 1967, Eisenhower moved to South America where she spent seven years with her first husband, Fernando Echavarria. In the 1970s, she relocated to New York where she joined legendary design firm Dorothy Draper before launching her eponymous design firm in 1981. In the late 1980s, Eisenhower married her second husband, Austrian banker Wolfgang Flottl. They were together for 31 years, frequently appearing in the New York society pages; in 1990, Architectural Digest named Eisenhower one of its Top 100 designers.
In addition to the Jarretière bracelet, highlights from Eisenhower’s jewelry collection include the “Moonlight Rose” bracelet by Tiffany & Co. (estimate $500,000–$700,000); a Tiffany Art Deco diamond and multi-gem creation designed circa 1925 that features an exceedingly rare scroll-like floral motif (estimate $500,000-$700,000); an exceptional 20.54 carat D color diamond ring (estimate $1.2–$1.8 million); an Art Deco diamond bangle bracelet by Cartier (estimate $150,000–$250,000); and an iconic Cartier Panthère brooch (estimate $100,000–$150,000).
“Anne assembled the collection that had everything to make it the best,” says Hubbard. “Impeccable quality, breadth and unique provenance, superb diamonds and gemstones, superior craftsmanship and extraordinary design throughout.”
The Magnificent Jewels of Anne Eisenhower is touring the globe, currently with stops in Los Angeles, Paris, Shanghai, Taipei, Geneva, Hong Kong, and New York, the final stop, where the jewels will be on display from June 2 to 6.
“Anne had an uncanny eye for putting things together,” says Susan. “She acquired pieces over time, but they were always selected for their beauty, distinctiveness—and sometimes their history.”
Hero image: Marlene Dietrich in Alfred Hitchcock‘s Stage Fright wearing a Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond bracelet later bought by Anne Eisenhower. Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images