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Mary Pickford's Star of Bombay

February 25, 1996

When Mary Pickford died in 1979 she bequeathed her large star sapphire, the Star of Bombay, to the Smithsonian if the museum would take it. I called the gem man there and asked him if he wanted to take possession. He came right out to Los Angeles, and upon seeing the gem said, "We want this sapphire. It is much brighter than our others--we will trade them off." He opened his pocket knife and pried the clasps loose, freeing the sapphire from the elaborate diamond necklace. He wrapped it in a soft cloth, put it in his coat pocket and returned to Washington.

We called an appraiser-dealer to evaluate the diamond necklace, a sapphire ring and bracelet. He gave us $15,000 for the necklace and $45,000 for the bracelet. He said the sapphire ring was worth either $3 or $30,000, depending upon whether it was genuine. He requested permission to take the ring to a specialist to find out. He came back and said, "$34,000--it's real."

The money still is in the Mary Pickford Foundation and the income is given to student scholarships and charities of one kind or another. The Star of Bombay may be seen in the current Smithsonian exhibit in the Los Angeles Convention Center.

EDWARD G. STOTSENBERG

President

Mary Pickford Foundation

Beverly Hills

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