The Count of many crystals

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AN Aladdin’s cave of 18th-century furniture, clothing and works of art belonging to the late Count Alexander von Beregshasy is set to be auctioned next month.

And a small sprinkle of the much-loved Camden Passage jeweller’s ashes will be turned into a sparkling blue cultured diamond ring, to be worn by his mother – Baroness Ilse von Beregshasy.

The 6ft 6in count, fondly known as The Count of Many Crystals due to his love of jewels and his Islington Swarovski boutique, died in February after losing his battle with “consumption”.

He had spent much of his adult life transforming his modest semi-detached home into a romantic fairytale abode, crammed with jewels, 18th-century clothing and Parisian and Venetian furniture.

Now his home is to be dismantled piece-by-piece as Gorringes auctioneers attempt to catalogue and itemise the count’s life work.

His store of jewels will not be part of the auction. His mother, Baroness von Beregshasy, said: “He stockpiled enough jewels for the next 150 years. Swarovski had stopped making the ones I found in the cabinet so they are very interested in them.” She is hoping Swarovski will add the count’s jewels to their museum, where his prize piece, the necklace he made for the Phantom of the Opera movie and ­later worn by Beyoncé, is already on display.

The baroness said: “He created this house as his Petite Versailles. I’m making sure his legacy will go on to the next custodians.”

But taking apart the count’s home will not be an easy task. His pretty petite kitchen has not a mod con in sight. A washing machine and dishwasher have been concealed behind ornate cupboard doors, while the classic stove has been hidden away in a pantry.

The dining room has been transformed into an eternal Christmas salon, complete with a rare ­silver rotating musical Christmas tree made from goose feathers, and there are chandeliers in almost every single light fitting.

A wrought iron staircase leading to the loft opens into the count’s own bedroom, with black walls and a round bed covered in a rich tapestry surrounded by his favourite uniforms, an ornate dressing table and decorative mirrors.

His pride and joy, a tiny dolls house “La Petite Palais” with working tiny chandeliers hand-made by the count is one of the pieces the Baroness intends to keep.

Count Alexander first came to the UK clutching a single suitcase and proceeded to carve out his life as a prolific jeweller and eccentric Islington figure, forever garbed in 18th-century clothing.

His mother is planning to move to Tenerife, and will be take some of her most precious mementos with her. Most importantly, she will be turning some of the count’s ashes into a sparkling blue cultured diamond ring.

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Legacy Camden Journal The Sunday Times - Count Alexander

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