The main story here is the one about my g-g uncle, Pierre Cartier, acquiring the entire Cartier New York 5th avenue building in exchange for a single necklace exactly 100 years ago.
Obviously it wasn’t just any old necklace – it was the most expensive necklace in the world – two strands of perfectly matched natural pearls, valued at around $1 million. Which, as luck would have it, was the same value as a rather successful businessman’s townhouse up by Central Park on 5th Avenue.
Unfortunately for the businessman in question, his new bride (30 years his junior) had spotted the necklace at Cartier’s small store and decided she simply must have it.
And so a deal was struck: the necklace for a (rather large) house.
It turned out to be a rather shrewd move for Cartier NY, which immediately made the prominent townhouse its American HQ.
It was less good for the businessman. When cultured pearls exploded onto the market, natural pearls plummeted in value. Several decades after that famous exchange, the necklace was sold for a fraction of its original value, while that building continues to be Cartier’s wonderful flagship New York store today.
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