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Socialite’s jewels bring millions

LONDON – A set of jewels once owned by American socialite Wallis Simpson – the woman who wooed King Edward VIII from the British throne – fetched nearly $12.5 million at auction late Tuesday.

Sotheby’s said it sold the entire complement of 20 brooches, bracelets and other gems, highlights of which included an onyx and diamond Cartier bracelet in the shape of a panther; a jewel-encrusted flamingo clip and a heart-shaped brooch with the initials W.E. – Wallis and Edward – commissioned for the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary.

The dramatic, emerald-eyed panther bracelet was the star of the sale, despite a few missing stones. Sotheby’s said it sold for $7 million, the highest price it’d ever received for a bracelet at auction.

All the jewels once belonged to Simpson and Edward, whose relationship caused a scandal that culminated when the king made an abdication broadcast to the nation in December 1936, declaring “I have found it impossible … to discharge my duties as king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.”

The British government opposed the king’s marriage to the twice-divorced, 40-year-old Simpson.