There are famous folks who want to remain in the shadows. I get that. What I don’t get are those that become ghosts. In trying to research today’s post, I looked high and low for information and images about American Socialite Hélène Beaumont but there was little to find. Thank goodness there’s a magnificent piece of jewelry being auctioned off by Sotheby’s in May, having once belonged to her, or she may have slipped into obscurity for most of us commoners.
Born Hélène Thomas is 1894, she trained in her early years as an opera singer, making her debut in London in 1917. But her opera career was not long lived, and soon she became the second wife of Louis Dudley Beaumont. Mr. Beaumont, born in Ohio in 1857 as Louis Dudley Schonenberg, was a department store magante, as one of the founders of May Company, one of the most important department stores of the time.
It was when he moved to France in that he changed his last name to Beaumont and became one of the early patrons of aviation. He was president of the American Aeroclub in France and a major supporter of the aviators during WWI, earning him the title Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
After their marriage, the Beaumonts moved to Cap-d’Antibes, where they became a fixture. Hélène was a close friend of the Duchess of Windsor (they even had many matching or similar pieces of jewelry) and Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont were known as great entertainers, throwing lavish parties there on the French Riviera in the 1920s and 1930s. Their residence, Villa Eilenroc was deemed one of the most beautiful villas of the Riviera, situated in a 22 acre park on the tip of the Cap. In the Sotheby’s write up for the upcoming auction it’s described, “This magnificent villa had been built in the 1860s by the architect Garnier, for Hugh Hope London, formerly governor of the Dutch Indies. It was he who named the Villa Eilenroc from the anagram of Cornelie, the name of his wife. The original “neo-baroque Côte d’Azure style” of the villa was later transformed by successive owners into a more neo-classical building, and in the hands of Englishman James Willie the park was landscaped by Ringuissen. The Beaumonts guided by Wells Bosworth filled the villa with exquisite objects, including the finest 18th century French furniture, much of it acquired at the great Rothschild sales in England in the 1920s.”
It was with the death of Mr. Beaumont in 1942 that the continued collecting of art and furnishings for their home ceased. After the second World War, Mrs. Beaumont moved back to France with her sister and they moved into a smaller house on the property. Villa Eilenroc was then donated in 1982 to Municipality of Antibes, and Hélène spent her remaining days between a flat in Monaco and her chalet in Vaduz.
With a jewelry collection that was rumored to rival Mrs. Simpson’s, I’m certain there’s so much more that’s not easily found online. It will be fun to watch the Sotheby’s auction on May 14th to see for what sum of money the fabulous emerald necklace is sold. Want to wager any guesses?