Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life on the Roadshow

Alternative Title: Paul Flato is My Co-pilot.

It has become a bit of a Monday night ritual for me to settle in at 8PM with a glass of wine to watch Antique Roadshow on PBS.

I have been watching this show for years. Partly because I just love antiques and seeing what people have been able to hold onto for generations. Partly for the education and history lessons it provides with each piece. And mostly because it fuels in me that glimmer of hope that someday I could be the person on that show, with a trinket I picked up at a yard sale for $4 that turns out to be worth $40,000. Not only CAN it happen, but it seemingly happens all the time. And this is what keeps me trolling the thrift stores!

This is what makes me believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will find an Hermes cigarette tray at the local Goodwill.

In any case, the other day I was watching and this woman had brought in a collection of art deco style watches an Aunt had given to her. They were all by a designer named Paul Flato and they were all BREATH-TAKING.

Paul Flat0 was a jewler to the stars in the 1930s (you should also know that my biggest regret in life is that I was not born early enough to have been a young adult in the 30s/40s. Sigh!) and his work has adorned many film stars including Rita Hayworth in ''Blood and Sand'' and Greta Garbo in ''Two-Faced Woman.''

Check out Greta's jewels (and sweet dance moves) in this clip. This was also her last movie!

Flato's pieces, though they contained SERIOUS amounts of gems, also had a humurous quality that absolutely tickles me. For instance he designed a diamond corset bracelet, complete with ruby garters, based on Mae West's famous undergarment. Another piece, designed for Katharine Hepburn, was a goldpickax with black enamel sign langage clips - this piece was called "The Golddigger". Ha!

In any case for anyone who was anyone, Flato was the man to see for jewels and for good cause. His pieces were equisite. The fact that this woman on The Roadshow had several of his watches (let alone just ONE) was nothing short of amazing.

movie poster
an ad in Vogue, 1939 photo from here

A quick search of yields the following

PF - brooch - braqcelet
Offered as a brooch or bracelet - talk about versatile!

PF - cherubs
Some whimsical cherubs for your ear lobes.

PF - brooch
Would be darling on a wool cape.

Also found this fabulous art deco style Flato ring from


And from the Doris Duke Collection of Important Jewlery we have this glittering feather brooch (by Verudra for Paul Flato)


Simply gorgeous. It's easy to see why Flato was so celebrated.

Sure, in later years sure he went to jail for fraud and later fled to Mexico to escape a grand larceny charge but the fact remains, his pieces were and still are beautiful!

To read more about him - the Times had a great obit when he passed in 1999.

I also want to mention that the same woman who had all the Flato watches, also was wearing a breathaking diamond cushion cut ring that she wasn't even trying to get appraised (bequeathed to her by the same aunt who gave her the watches) but the appraiser insisted and though when she had it appraised years ago it was appx $35K it's value had balooned to over $200K. Sacre bleu!!

I definitely screamed and scared the dog. But such is the drama of The Roadshow!

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