The lavish cinematic spectacle 'Napoleon' has rekindled a long-standing enigma surrounding the lost jewelry of Empress Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte's first wife. The mystery primarily revolves around a necklace and a tiara, believed to have adorned the empress during the grandeur of the imperial coronation in 1804. Both the pieces were once a part of the collection of the Harrogate-based family jewelry firm Ogden in the tumultuous 1930s.
The Necklace: A Vanishing Act
The necklace was first procured by Captain William Ogden in 1933. However, the piece seems to have vanished into thin air following a private sale, leaving no visual record of its existence behind. Despite the lack of a photograph, the necklace's disappearance has always intrigued the Ogden family, still at the helm of their ancestral firm.
The Tiara: A Glittering Mystery
The tiara, a dazzling spectacle studded with 1,040 diamonds, has a more illustrious history. Sold to Sir Robert Mond for King George VI's coronation in 1937, it later found its way into the collection of renowned luxury jewelry and watch brand Van Cleef & Arpels. Adding to its famed past, the tiara was borrowed by the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco and Rose Kennedy. It was also displayed at a Paris exhibition in 1969, marking its last known public appearance. Its current location, however, remains shrouded in mystery.
A Question of Authenticity
While the Ogden family fervently wishes to trace the fate of these historic artifacts, there are doubts about the tiara's original ownership. A French historian has pointed out its absence from the family jewel inventories of the time and its stark contrast to the tiara painted on Empress Josephine's head in a coronation painting commissioned by Napoleon, executed by the celebrated artist Jacques Louis David. The discrepancy raises questions about the true origin of the tiara, further deepening the intrigue.