The diamond bow brooch was created in 1855 by François Kramer for Empress Eugénie (1826-1920), wife of Napoléon III. Originally intended as a buckle for a diamond belt, the brooch was later transformed at the request of Eugénie into an elaborate stomacher, extending from the chest down to the waist, through the addition of five diamond papilles and a pair of diamond tassels.
On May 12 1887, the French Crown Jewels were sold at public auction in the Salle des Etats of the Louvre by order of the Third Republic. Jeweller Emile Schlesinger bought the brooch for Fr42,200 for Caroline Astor.
The brooch was due to be auctioned by Christie's New York on April 15 (the estimate was $4-6m) but the auction was cancelled at the last moment for judicial reasons. But, a private sale to the Louvre was negotiated by François Curiel, president of Christie's Europe, with the agreement of the owner. The purchase was funded by a universal legacy from Mr and Mrs Rouffet, made available to the Louvre by the Friends of the Louvre.