Princess Elsie Burhaneddin (1879 – 1952) was an American socialite, philanthropist and an admired host of European royalty. Born Elsie Gregory Jackson of New York City, she was an American heiress educated in New York and Europe. In 1904, Elsie married Deming Jarves Jr., an industrialist and head of the American Agricultural Chemical Company of Detroit. Mr. and Mrs. Jarves maintained a residence in Washington D.C. and a villa named ‘La Val Fleuri’ in Dinard, France.
Whilst living in France during World War I, Mr. and Mrs. Jarves devoted themselves to helping the wounded in hospitals near Dinard. Appreciative for Elsie’s noble acts, the Belgian King and French Government awarded her the ‘Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française’, a high honor awarded to civilians who without legal or military obligation aided the injured or performed an act of exceptional dedication in the presence of the enemy during the war. Following Deming Jarves Jr.’s passing in 1924, Elsie continued to play an important part in the social life of Dinard and New York.
As prominent members of Dinard society, Elsie and Deming frequently hosted soirées and dinners for a number of Europe’s royal personages including the Queen of Romania, Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia and his wife Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Grand Duke Cyril was a member of the Russian Imperial Family, the House of Romanov and self-proclaimed Tsar of Russia despite his exile following the Russian Revolution. While living in Dinard, the Grand Duke and Duchess Cyril formed a close relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Deming Jarves, and permitted their daughter, Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna, to travel to the United States under the chaperonage of Mrs. Jarves and her family.
The arrival of Grand Duchess Kira was noted throughout the newspapers of New York and Washington D.C. during the years of 1927 through 1930. Kira was welcomed by Laura Ekengren and Elsie Ekengren O’Dunne, the sister and niece of Mrs. Deming Jarves. Laura and Elsie introduced Duchess Kira to New York society attending fêtes, debutant balls and soirees. Their travels took them to Westover, Redmond, Palm Beach and Havana. As the Chair of the Washington Committee for Russian Relief, Laura Ekengren worked closely with Grand Duchess Cyril and Kira to hold galas helping raise funds for Russian refugees.
In 1933, Elsie re-married to Prince Mehmed Burhanuddin, son of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire to hold absolute power. Prince Burhaneddin was a colonel in the Ottoman navy, a composer, painter and pianist. She and her husband moved to the United States just before the start of World War II and maintained a residence in New York’s Upper East Side and ‘Villa Bahar’ in Bar Harbor, Maine. Elsie and Prince Burhaneddin maintained a close relationship with the Duke and Dutchess Cyril. Elsie purchased many jewels from the Grand Duchess Cyril including the 17 carat ‘O’Dunne Sapphire’, which was donated to the Smithsonian and now resides at the Canadian Museum of Nature.
The present lot was gifted by Princess Elsie Burhaneddin to her niece, Elsie Ekengren O’Dunne, and descended through the family until present day.