The discovery of the extraordinary archives of the René Boivin company has led to the development of a certificate of authenticity that has turned the market upside down.
By Sandrine Merle.
In the recent sale of the Tezenas collection at Annabelle Cukierman’s (April 18, 2023), several pieces of jewelry were accompanied by a René Boivin certificate of authenticity, issued by Thomas Torroni-Levene, the new owner of the archives. A typical result: €60,580 for a pair of earrings (estimate €3-6,000) in the shape of a “Paisley” motif – highly representative of the René Boivin style – order dated December 7, 1937).
The René Boivin certificate, the new sine qua non
The certificate of authenticity established by Thomas Torroni-Levene is not a matter of subjective decision-making, but rather based exclusively on documents such as order books referencing the names of the buyers, stock books, workshop records and numerous drawings. This demanding requirement is in line with the standards applied to their jewelry by the greatest brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels or Boucheron. “To locate the jewels of the Tezenas estate, I had spent several days trawling through the 1930s – no small task”, explains Torroni-Levene. The second pillar of authentication is the precise study of how each jewel was made: everything can be a clue; the mounting, adjustments, updating, or certain typical details of manufacture specific to certain workshops while the patina is also a precious testament to the passing of time. “That’s not something anyone could simply make up, because René Boivin worked with dozens of workshops that I am still listing,” says the archivist.
Disrupting the market
This sale confirms the key role played by the certificate of authenticity on the market in 2022, once the discovery of the archives was announced. On December 6, 2022, the existence of the certificate doubled the price of a double-click sapphire brooch that sold for €23,400 at Adam’s, compared to €11,440 (with a simple certificate) on July 12, 2021 at Tajan. Conversely, in November 2022, a silver and black lacquer ring with a pearl, not authenticated by René Boivin, sold for €2,000 at Christie’s (against an estimate of €5-7,000), even though it had sold for €10,800 at Aguttes in 2016 (with an attestation that was authentic at the time). A result that suggests that the certificates hitherto considered valid may no longer be relevant. Without this key element, a René Boivin piece is no longer guaranteed as such.
For Torroni-Levene, the idea of attributing a piece ‘in the style of Rene Boivin’ to the jeweler is inconceivable. “Such rigor is essential to cleaning up a market undermined by too many attestations, a bit like that of Corot in painting … We must therefore restore confidence.” This is perhaps especially true in a context where the number of experts has exploded and buyers no longer know who to turn to.