20 February 2014

Jewel History: Austria Brings Suit for Crown Jewels (1921)

Emperor Karl and Empress Zita of Austria [1]
"Austria Brings Suit for Crown Jewels"
(originally appeared in the New York Times, 20 Feb 1921)

A sensational lawsuit will start shortly against the former Emperor Charles in which the Austrian government seeks to recover $20,000,000 worth of Austrian crown jewels brought to Switzerland by Charles and Count Berchtold [2]. The trial will probably take place in Lausanne.

Charles declares his property is not in Austria but in Italy and that several of the jewels were taken by Austrian troops during the invasion of Northern Italy after Caporetto [3].

Swiss jewelers refuse to buy any crown jewels, fearing future restitution. It is stated that Charles and Zita are specially anxious to sell a diamond necklace worth nearly $1,000,000 worn by the late Empress Elizabeth of Austria [4], who was murdered in Geneva.

1. Cropped version of photograph available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
2. Count Leopold Berchtold was the Imperial Foreign Minister of Austria-Hungary at the outbreak of World War I.
3. The Battle of Caporetto, on the Austro-Italian front, was fought in present-day Slovenia in October and November of 1917.
4. Empress Elisabeth, better known to us as Sisi, was most famous for the diamond star ornaments she wore in her hair. See my article on the diamond stars here.