A GOOD STORY "KILLED"
Necklace Yarn Breaks Into Print Again and Is Denied by Wireless from Paris and by American Gem Expert
Last week New York newspapers published stories about the "theft" of a valuable necklace from the Louvre Museum in Paris. The necklace was said to be one which Napoleon Bonaparte had given to Josephine. The story said that Tiffany & Co. was about to restore the necklace to the French Museum after it had finally come into the possession of that concern. The story was a myth and one which has often been published with variations.
The story told of a "love collar" given by Napoleon to Josephine which was stolen from the Louvre 25 years ago. The French Chamber of Deputies had offered a reward of $150,000 and French detectives had scoured the country to locate it. It had been purchased for a meagre $25 by two Americans in the Chinese quarters in San Francisco and finally turned over to Tiffany & Co., New York, for 85,000 francs. The Tiffany concern, so the story related, was preparing to return the necklace to the French Government.
A dispatch from Paris, France, last Thursday, stated that in the first place the Louvre never had such a collar in its possession: secondly the Chamber of Deputies never offered any reward for it, and, thirdly, the French police, French officials and French experts never heard of such a necklace.
On Thursday the New York 'Times' published a wireless from the. French capital reporting the story, a part of which reads as follows:
The 'Figaro' today says the tale is one of the prettiest it has ever heard, but adds:
"However, neither French antiquaries, nor the French police, nor the French newspapers have any information about this famous collar, so well described from America. We have interrogated at least twenty persons–police officials, directors of our museums and experts on Napoleonic memoirs. Not one of them ever heard of this famous robbery from the Louvre. We went through all the newspaper files for twentyfive years and had no better luck. We do not say that Napoleon never gave Josephine the necklace, but they know more about it in America than we do in France."
The 'Matin' sent a representative to see M. Mignon, director of the Louvre, who said he had never heard of the amber necklace, and certainly it was never in the Louvre. After a search of the records of the Chamber of Deputies the 'Matin' says that no reward was ever offered for the recovery of Josephine's collar.
'Excelsior''s investigation took its reporter to see Henri Verne of the staff of the National Museums, who said:
"Josephine's collar was never stolen from the Louvre for the good reason that it was never there. Nor in our archives is there any mention of any such piece. I do not say it does not exist, but we know nothing about it.", .
Jean Bourguignon, custodian of Josephine's home at Malmaison, was also without knowledge of the necklace.
"This necklace story looks like a canard," he said.
'Excelsior' asked for information from the Paris branch of Tiffany's, but could get no news of the restoration to the Louvre of an amber necklace which it had never lost.
Dr. George F. Kunz, of Tiffany & Co., New York, when interviewed by a 'Jewelers' Circular' reporter, branded the whole affair as a myth.
"This story is an ancient one which was originated about four years ago," he said.
"The first time this tale was told in the newspapers, a school teacher, supposed to come from New York or Mount Vernon, was touring Europe and at Florence, Italy, picked up a necklace which she supposed was hematite. The necklace, of course, so the story went, was bought at a ridiculously low price and brought back to New York. When shown to Tiffany & Co., the newspapers reported at the time, the necklace was found to contain black pearls of a rare variety and worth a fortune. Of course, the teacher 'cashed in' on the necklace, but in the newspapers only, for the entire story was a myth.
"The next time the story was told the circumstances surrounding its purchase were somewhat similar to the first incident. A teacher, apparently the same one, was again the purchaser of a cameo necklace, believed to be only an ordinary piece of jewelry, for a mere pittance. Again the teacher was supposed to have brought the necklace to Tiffany & Co., where, to her great surprise, it was discovered to contain cameos at one time belonging to Queen Marie Antoinette, of France, and given to her by the crowned heads of Europe. Again the story went up in smoke.
"The newspapers publish this story periodically and then after its publication endeavor to verify it. I have been taken aside by newspaper men at banquets and asked about this story but each time I have told them it is all a myth."
Source: The Jewelers' Circular - 22nd June 1921