"The Magnificent Jewels Of Vera Hue-Williams" 1995 Christie's
Christie's Geneva 18 May 1995
10.75" x 8.5"
Vera Hue-Williams (1899-1992), the daughter of a barrister, fled Russia in 1917 with her mother, Baroness Kostovsky, and sister Olga, apparently penniless apart from the jewels sewn into her petticoat hem. Like many leaving Russia they ended up in Paris where in 1927 she married her first husband, a British diplomat called George Owen. This marriage ended in divorce and in 1931 she became the second wife of Walter Sherwin Cottingham of the Berger Paint company (his first wife had been the soprano, Maggie Teyte). After Walter’s death in 1936 Vera married again in 1940, this time to Thomas Lilley, chairman of the shoe firm Lilley and Skinner. Together they founded the Woolton House Stud near Newbury and also lived at Middleton-on-Sea near Goodwood where they entertained lavishly. Thomas Lilley died in 1959, and in 1963 Vera married her fourth husband, Colonel Roger Hue-Williams. She continued to breed racehorses including her husband’s horse Altesse Royale which won three major races in 1971. Roger predeceased her in 1987 and when she died in 1992 she left £9 million. The sale of her jewels raised around £3 million.