Gina Lollobrigida's jewels will be auctioned off for charity, with the former Italian actress looking to benefit stem cell research, according to reports. The Bulgari jewels, some of which are 125 years old, could be worth up to $3 million.
Gina Lollobrigia, the 85-year-old star of films like "The World's Most Beautiful Woman" and "Come September," gave the jewels to Sotheby's auction house to be sold May 14. 22 individual pieces will be shown in New York, London, and Rome before the official auction in Geneva.
"All of the jewels to be sold by the actress have been estimated at between two and three million dollars," a Sotheby's representative told AFP. The auction house said that Lollobrigida, a sculptor, "doesn't need jewelry"- indeed, she left acting behind in the 1980s, choosing humanitarian work and photojournalism instead. Now she is looking to give back.
"This will not be the end of the jewelry but it will be something that does good, helping a cause that is very important to me," she told Reuters. "I want to leave a souvenir of my life."
Customers will also benefit, with the event to become "a wonderful opportunity for collectors to acquire seminal Bulgari pieces" David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's in Switzerland, said in a statement.
The iconic pieces include a pair of natural pearl and diamond pendants valued at $600,000 to $1 million; a 19.03-carat diamond ring set estimated at $400,000 to $800,000; and a diamond necklace and bracelet also worn by Lollobrigida as a tiara for $300,000 to $500,000.
Estimates by the auction house are often trumped by wealthy collectors looking to own a piece of history. Lollobrigida, though, views the jewelry as an opportunity to do good.
"I began collecting jewels from Bulgari in the 1950s and 1960s, drawn by the wonderful craftsmanship and distinctive style of these pieces. They … are redolent of those times and the extraordinary people I met along the way," Lollobrigida said in a statement. "In [selling them], I can also help a cause very close to my heart, that of stem cell research– treatment, which I believe should be freely available to every child."
"It is my wish that part of the proceeds from the sale will contribute to help fund an international hospital for stem cell research," she added.