Auctioneers and Appraisers

Unique Artist-designed 18kt Gold Surrealist Necklace/Belt, Bill Copley (1919-1996)

Sold for:





Fine Jewelry - 2575B
Date / Time :
December 06, 2011 10:00AM


Unique Artist-designed 18kt Gold Surrealist Necklace/Belt, Bill Copley (1919-1996), made by Gem Montebello, designed as ten articulated figures suspended from circular link chain, the figures lg. 1 5/8, chain lg. 53 in., signed and dated cply 72, no. 1/9, also signed Gm and BC 1.

Note: In a statement by GianCarlo Montebello, this piece was intended to be an addition of nine. However, this lot is the only one that was executed. William N. Copley's work is based in Dada, Surrealism, and American Pop Art. He studied at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, from 1932 to 1936, and at Yale University from 1936 to 1938. In the late 1940s, before he began painting himself, he opened a gallery in Los Angeles, where he exhibited the work of numerous Surrealists including Magritte, Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy, and Man Ray. The gallery was a failure, but it would become the start of his career as a painter and collector. While living in Paris in the 1950s and 60s, he associated with many of the Surrealists and worked in that style, but mostly in the erotic and sexual side of the movement. His cartoonish figures (seen in this lot) can be linked to American Pop Art. His collection of Surrealist artwork was one of the world's most respected, and when it was sold at auction in 1979 it achieved a record sum for a single owner's collection in the United States. Copley's second wife, Noma Ratner Copley, was a well respected Surrealist jeweler, and together they formed the William and Noma Copley Foundation, later known as the Cassandra Foundation.
Estimate $8,000-12,000


Bill Copley, Yves Tanguy, William N. Copley, Dada, Yale University, Andover, Phillips Academy, Massachusetts, Max Ernst, Los Angeles, painter and collector, Paris, United States, Cassandra Foundation, Noma Copley Foundation, Surrealist jeweler, Noma Ratner Copley, Modern painters, Surrealism