The Begum and the Cannes Film Festival, 1966

Sophia Loren, President of the Cannes Film Festival Jury, visits Her Highness The Begum Aga Khan III at her villa Yakymour, Le Cannet, on May 18, 1966.

Today, 50 years ago, Sophia Loren and the President of the Cannes Film Festival Jury (right), visits Her Highness The Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III and her father Adrian Labrousse (left) at the Begum‘s villa Yakymour, Le Cannet, on May 18, 1966.

Her Higness La Bégum used to assemble every year the members of the Cannes film festival jury, and many national and international movie stars.

Christie’s Auctions Jewels from Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen

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It is not every day one can stand a chance to own jewelry that once belonged to royalty. If it isn’t enough that Shirley Temple’s blue sapphire ring, the Queen of Albania’s Coronation tiara and jewels owned by the Duchess of Windsor are all up for bids next month. On May 18, auction house Christie’s will give you that opportunity with the sale of exquisite jewels that include several from the private collection of H.S.H Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen.

The princess (born merely wealthy, she was first married to the Prince of Leiningen before marrying the Aga Kahn in 1998), received many of the jewels as gifts from her second husband.

Gabriela was previously married to Prince Karl-Emich zu Leiningen and later, May 1998 she married to his Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, 49th Imam of the Ismaili, international entrepreneur, horse-breeder and founder of the Aga Khan Development Network, and became Princess Inaara Aga Khan.

During their 16-year marriage, the Princess held the tittle Begum Inaara Aga Khan and received superb and unique Jewels from her then husband, a great art connoisseur, furthering her already extensive collection. Several of them are to be presented in the Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale in May. Before the sale however, the jewels will be on display in Geneva from May 13; the collection is currently making its way to New York as part of a tour.

Sophisticated and classically beautiful, H.S.H Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen’s extensive collection is a true reflection of its owner. A woman of charisma, wisdom, elegance and above all joy. Each jewel represents a special moment in her life and the happiness she experienced at the time.

The 46 lots set to go under the hammer in Geneva are estimated to be worth over $15 million. Bidders can expect to see spectacular items from Cartier, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany & Co.

We highlight several key pieces that will certainly excite any avid jewelry collector.

Cultured pearl and diamond fringe necklace, bangle and pair of earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels.

 

Cultured Pearl and Diamond Fringe Necklace and a Bangle and Pair of Earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels

 

A significant piece on auction is the pearl and diamonds necklace the Princess inherited from her grandmother in law, the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan (1906 – 2000), wife of Sultan Mohammed Aga Khan III. When it was given to the Princess, she commissioned Van Cleef & Arpels the creation of complementary bracelet and earrings to wear with the necklace. On several occasions, Princess Gabriele has been photographed wearing the stunning set.

GNV1415_Zmag_Cover.pdf

GNV1415_Zmag_Cover.pdf

The necklace, whose yellow-gold flowers contain small diamond clusters, has 15 cultured pearls and multiple white gold clusters. The necklace comes with a similarly set bangle and pair of ear pendants. Estimate: $200,000 to $300,000

Aside from their beauty, many of these jewels bare a compelling history of their own. To me they embody wonderful and loving personal memories as well as exciting chapters of my life, full of color, travel and encounters. They have brought me great joy and happiness. Now I wish their journey to continue, bringing joy and happiness to their new owners.

H.S.H Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen

Other highlight in the collection is the cultured pearl and diamond fringe necklace. Its owner before coming into the possession of the princess was her former husband’s grandmother, Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. When it entered the collection of Princess Gabriela, a matching pair of ear pendants and a bangle were commissioned from Van Cleef & Arpels in order to wear them as a complete parure.

Cultured pearl and diamond necklace and pair of earrings

A SET OF CULTURED PEARL AND DIAMOND JEWELLERY Provenance H.H. Begum Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan

The necklace designed as a double strand of cultured Pearls, to the circular and retangular-cut diamond cluster clasp, together with a pair of earrings, each cultured pearld set within a baguette-cut diamond undulating surround, with four circular-cut diamond accents. Mounted in gold, the necklace is 46 cm, the earrings are 2 cm in diameter.

Provenance H.H. Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan.

A ruby, emerald and diamond flower brooch by Robert Pouget.

A RUBY, EMERALD AND DIAMOND FLOWER BROOCH, BY ROBERT POUGET Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

The rose flowerhead and rosebud set with calibré-cut rubies, to the similarly-set emerald leaves and baguette-cut diamond stem, 8.5 cm. With French assay marks for platinum and gold, signed Robert Pouget. Estimate: $40.000 – $60.000

Provenance H.H. Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan.

Emerald and diamond necklace and earrings by Cartierb71b523e8a76e488bb7e29df5a277658

The necklace features a detachable, cushion-shaped emerald pendant weighing approximately 39.7 carats; there are five more emeralds in the necklace weighing more than 16 carats in total. Estimate: $2.5 million to $3.5 million

This creation by Cartier that would make any woman swoon. The diamond and emerald necklace features an almost 40-carat Colombian emerald. The necklace with the matching earrings was worn at the official dinner that followed the wedding of Prince Felipe of Spain and Letizia Ortiz back in 2004.

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Persepolis necklace and paire of Persane earrings by Cartier

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The necklace, set with emeralds, sapphires, and rose-cut diamonds, is paired with a pair of emerald, diamond, and pearl earrings. The necklace was a gift from the princess’s mother, Renate Thyssen. Estimate: $700,000 to $1 million.

 

'Persepolis' Necklace and Pair of 'Persane' Earrings by Cartier

Pieces that will certainly get your attention, include a suite of emerald, diamond and pearl jewelry from Cartier, as well as the ‘Persepolis’ necklace and pair of ‘Persane’ earrings. With graduated emerald bead drops and a larger emerald beat pendant suspended, the suite also features a briolette-cut diamond and oval cabochon emerald surmount. With emeralds, diamonds and sapphires of several cuts, the ‘Persepolis’ neckalce and ‘Persane’ earrings are a set that certainly cannot be missed.

 

Suite of emerald, diamond, and pearl jewelry by Cartier

 

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Collection of H.S.H. Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen. A suite of Colombian emerald, diamond and pearl jewellery, by Cartier4

 

The necklace is a fringe of emerald beads interspersed with diamonds and pearls, suspended on a larger emerald and diamond pendant. The necklace is matched with a similarly-set pendant clasp, bracelet, and pair of ear pendants. Estimate: $500,000 to $700,000.

 

The Pohl diamond by Cartier

The 'Pohl' Diamond by Cartier

Pohl Diamond. What makes this 36-carat diamond so special is that it was the very first significant diamond that was polished in America (most diamonds are polished in Europe, India or Israel) before it was sold in 1943 to Bernice Chrysler Garbisch of the Chrysler Family. Having been mined nearly a decade earlier as a 287-carat rough stone, the diamond was acquired in 1998 for the Princess at Cartier.

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This massive 36.09 carat diamond, flawless D color, is mounted on platinum and tapered by baguette-cut schoulders. Estimate: $3.8 million to $5.5 million.

 

Sapphire and diamond ring by Cartier

Sapphire and diamond ring by CartierThe sapphire weighs a massive 21.06 carats and is set in platinum between baguette-cut diamond shoulders. Estimate: $600,000 to $800,000.

 

A magnificent diamond and sapphire necklace by Cartier

 

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A detachable pendant set with a cushion-shaped sapphire, weighing approximately 55.61 carats, a pear-shaped diamond weighing approximately 6.05 carats, and a cushion-shaped sapphire surmount, weighing approximately 3.48 carats, to the necklace set with a continuous line of graduated pear-shaped diamonds. The nacklace is 37 cm and is dated 1998, Signed Cartier, with French assay marks for platinum and gold. It comes in its original Cartier red leather box. Estimate: $2.000.000 – $3.000.000.

65b4b50b93324bfe619393177dc7e813Accompanied by report no. 16030063/1 and 2 dated March 2016 from the Gübelin GemLab stating that the orgin of the sapphires is Burma, with no indications of heating.

Report 1176529998 dated 15 March 2016 from the GIA Gemological Institute of America stating that the 6.05 carat diamond, VVS1 clarity: also with a working diagram indicating that the clarity of the diamond is potentially internally flawless, and the Diamond Type Classification letter stating that the diamond has been determined to be type IIa.

Further the necklace is accompanied with by a copy of an invoice dated 18 November 1998 from Cartier.

 

Pair of diamond and sapphire earrings by Cartier 

Pair of diamond and sapphire earrings by Cartier

The two sapphires, weighing 24.69 and 25.63 carats are detachable; the diamonds are set in platinum. Estimate: $600,000 to $800,000

 

Ruby and diamond Novelty brooch watch by Cartier119026913_o

 

Ruby and Diamond Novelty Brooch by Cartier

This ‘novelty’ brooch, so-called because one side opens to reveal a watch with a circular dial, was once owned by Begum Sultan Mohamed Shah Om Habibeh Aga Khan III (the princess’s ex-husband’s grandmother).

The violin was one of Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan’s – and Princess Gabriele’s – favorite instruments. The brooch, modelled as a violin, has calibré-cut ruby belly with diamond fingerboard and tailpiece, with pavé-set diamond ribs. A one side opening to reveal a watch with circlar dial, Roman numerals and quartz movement. Together with its bow, its dated 1989. The violin, 6,8 cm, and bow, 8 cm, are mounted in platinum and gold. The violin is signed Cartier, no.001: the bow is unsigned. Estimate: $10,500 to $15,000.

Provenance H.H. Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan.

 

Mystery set ruby and diamond brooch and pair of earrings by Van Cleef & Arpels

Ruby and Diamond Brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels

This ‘Mystery Set’ flower brooch comprises rubies and a diamond-cluster pistil and is mounted in platinum and gold. Estimate: $150,000 to $250,000

'Mystery Set' Ruby and Diamond 'Poppy' Earrings by Van Cleef & ArpelsEach ‘Mystery Set’ ruby-set poppy flower has a circular-cut diamond pistil and two diamond-set leaves set in platinum. Estimate: $100,000 to $150,000.

 

H.S.H Gabriela Princess zu Leiningen

Born to an entrepreneurial and philanthropic German family, Princess Gabriela, a trained lawyer, has been involved in educational, health and cultural development programs throughout her life.

In 2004, the Princess founded the Princess Inaara Foundation. This aid organization is committed to supporting projects in both Germany and in developing countries, striving to protect and ameliorate the rights of women and children in need, often through microcredit projects. She campaigns for greater understanding and tolerance across diverse cultures, whilst also being committed to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and continues to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees for the German AIDS Foundation.

The sale will be held on May 18, 7pm at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. For more information on the auction, visit Christie’s.

 

 

 

 

 

Mata Salamat, The lady of Yakymour

 

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Yvette Labrousse

Yvette ‘Yvonne’ Blanche Labrousse born in 1906, of a father who was a tramway driver and a town councillor for Le Cannet, and a mother who was a seamstress. Nothing in her modest upbringing told anything of the glorious destiny that was to be hers.

Today, 110 years ago, Yvette Labrousse was born Yvonne Blanch Labrousse in the small town of Sète, near Marseilles, France, on 15 February 1906. She was the daughter of Adrien Labrousse (October 25, 1874 – June 1, 1969) and Marie Brouet (December 26, 1870 – .. ) , a seamstress. When she was only six months old her family soon move to Cannes, where they lived in a flat in the Rue d’Antibes, and later on to Lyon where the young Yvette spent most of her childhood.

 

Yvonne Yvette Labrousse Om Habibeh Begum Aga Khan

Yvette Labrousse

Yvette grew up tall, more than six feet, and vèry beautiful. Having stricktly raised, however, she showed no disposition to accept the film and modelling offers that cameher way, instead, she went to work with her mother, who was running a dress shop that time. She always told that her parents were very warm, kind and always openminded.

 

Yvette Yvonne Blanche Labrousse Sète Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Le Cannet

Yvette Labrousse

After being elected Miss Lyon in 1929, at the age of twenty-four, then Miss France in Paris in 1930, she joined the Miss Europe 1930 pageant in Paris, at the Paris Opera. The streets outside the hall were packed with people eager to see the beautiful participants from all over Europe… It was one of the most talked about events in the press.

 

Miss France, Yvette Labrousse, Begum Um Habibeh Aga Khan

Miss France, Yvette Labrousse, was always full of great story’s about ‘her time’ as Miss France. Talking about the girls, the fashion of that time, the make-up and the travels.

 

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Yvette Labrousse, Paris, 1930’s

Yet Yvette Labrousse was no longer a provincial. As a beauty queen and a representatieve of France, she traveled to many countries around the world. She found herself particulary taken by Egypt and, in the late thirdies she moved to Egypt, she moved to Cairo and adopted the faith of Islam.

In Cairo, Yvette Labrousse met her future husband, the Sultan Aga Khan III, 48th Imam of the Nizari Shia Ismaili community, and they fell in love at first sight when they met at a royal dancing party in Egypt in 1938. They married thirteen months after the Aga Khan III and his third wife were divorcedby mutual consent, on 9 October 1944 in Switzerland.

 

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III by Weinberg Picture FrameSir Sultan Mohamad Aga Khan III and Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan seated half-length portrait by Weinberg. Photograph signed and inscribed by Begum, “A souvenir – from an old friend – of the family Aga Khan”. Inscribed in the image, middle left and right. 8 1/2×6 1/2 inches; matted in original sterling silver frame bearing Khan’s emblem at top. Circa 1955

After her marriage she took the name of Om Habibeh (Little Mother of the Beloved) and became Begum, fully Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. Her husband playfully nicknamed her ‘Yaky’, which was composed from the initials of ‘Yvette’, ‘Aga’ and ‘Khan’. In 1954, Om Habibeh was given the title of ‘Mata Salamat’, which literally means serene or peaceful mother. She was the foutyh woman in Islamic history with that title during last 13 centuries.

I have at last been granted the real and wonderful haven of finding in and with my wife a true union of mind and soul

Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah, Aga Khan III, in his Memoirs ‘World Enough & Time’, page 275

They settled in the Avenue Victoria villa at Le Cannet, in the hills above Cannes, on a hillside wich she had once looked on to from the flat in the Rue d’Antibes, for which planning permission applications had been submitted in 1937. They named it Yakymour: Y for Yvette, ak for Aga Khan, mour for amour. The French word for love. As is clear from such indications , the couple was very close and the two loved each other dearly.

 

Yakymour

Yakymour, Le Cannet, France

Within this property surrounded by parkland, Her Higness La Bégum used to assemble the members of the Cannes film festival jury, and many national and international movie stars. Some of them became friends for live. She wasn’t only Kees van Dongen’s muse, but with her husband’s encouragement, she also developed an active interest in painting and sculpture, herself becoming an accomplished artist and sculptor. She was also interested in the arts including classical music, opera and ballet.

I always appreciated beauty, but he (the Aga Khan) taught me how really to enjoy a lovely sunset, moonlight, to know the stars, the colours and scents of flowers, to like music, ballet and opera, to appreciate everything that is beautiful in life.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

She rarely left his side, and nursed him devotedly through the pains of old age until his death in 1957. But her duty was also a delight. She never ceased to be grateful for the manner in which he had widened her horizons, especially in music and in the arts. “Enjoy yourself”, he told her. “It’s later then you think”.

 

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Shortly before his death, the Aga Khan III chose a location on the West Bank of the Nile as his final resting place. The location was highly symbolic, for centuries earlier the Aga Khan’s ancestors had founded the Fatimid dynasty with its capital in Cairo. The Fatimids represented one of the apogees of culture, being patrons of the arts, liteature, achitecture, pluralism (the acceptance of racial, ethnic, cultural and intra-religious differences) and scientific endeavors,  all fields that were equally dear to the Aga Khan III an Om Habibeh. The Begum was very supportive of her husband in his work during their thirteen years together. They both took a particular interest in issues affecting women’s welfare.

When her husband died in 1957, he had stated in his will that his successor, his grandson Karim, would have Om Habibeh as advisor for the first seven years of his reign. because she had been familiar for many years with the issues facing his followers and he had the confidence in her wise judgment. Immediatly, with the help of architect Farid El-Shafie and contractor Hassan Dorra, Om Habibeh started building at Aswan, on top of the hill above there house, a mausoleum to her husband, a task that took 16 months. “The Aga Khan wants to sleep in the hot sand overlooking the waters of the Nile”, Om Habibeh always said, “and when I die I want to lie beside him. We do not want to be parted”.

 

Begum Om HabibehAga Khan Yvette Labrouse Aswan

It was not in her nature either to forget, or to try to hide, her humble orgins. Her legacy remains in the Om Habibeh Foundation, whose programs have contributed to health, education and inclusion in some of the poorest areas of Egypt.

Her gesture of daily placing a red rose on her husband’s tomb while in Egypt (every day for 43 years, either the Begum or when she was away in Europe, Sheikh Ahmed Ibrahim, whom she hired in 1963 to spend eight hours a day chanting verses from the Koran over her late husband’s tomb, laid a fresh red rose there) enforced the reputation of the legendary romance between the Aga Khan III and Om Habibeh. After the death of her husband, she continued to live at Yakymour, though she always spent three months a year in the villa at Aswan, the site of her husband’s mausoleum.

As a widow, she travelled widely both for charity and for pleasure. She was a regular face at Ascot (she herself owned several horses), where she always caught the eye. In the 1950’s and 60’s she was a true fashion icon, and was a countless times on the cover of International magazines. Her advice on fashion was typically sensible: “Don’t choose what you like, but what suits you. To be elegant one must have discretion. The secret is in the details”. Often she was sitting front-row at the Paris fashion shows from Christian Dior, Lanvin, Jaques Faith and many others.

 

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan by Gyenes

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan by Gyenes

It wasn’t only beauty on the outside. She was dearly loved by her people because of her generosity to the poor, childern, women and the elderly, and, by her own husband as well. She had a big heart for everybody. Also for people outside the Shia Ismaili community. No matter what kind of religion, man or women, or even sexual oriantation, she was véry openminded, Yakymour and Nour el-Salam were both an open house.

We should take care of eachother, everybody should be loved!, we are here on earth to do good, and not to harm or judge people, so lets love.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Begum Om Habibeh also loved annimals a lot. Over the years she had several dogs and cats. “Every person and every animal should be loved, we are all creations from Allah. “When a person is not good for animals, he can not be good to humans”. “We should take care of eachother, everybody should be loved!, we are here on earth to do good, and not to harm or judge people, so lets love”…. And that’s what she did!

 

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Grandma ‘Yaky’, the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan with her poodles at Yakymour, Le Cannet, France, January 1, 1985 

Beauty was not only on the outside. It came from the heart. Highly popular, Her Highness La Bégum showed great generosity throughout her life. She made many donations to schools (‘education is the most impotant thing in life after being loved’ and ‘The highest result of education is tolerance’ she always said) and hospitals. But also donations to women’s shelters, Alzheimer foundation, and… Aids foundation.

The highest result of education is tolerance.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Over four decades of widowhood (she never thought of remarrying) she was always out in the community helping the poor and elderly and would relentlessly encourage education for women. For over forty years, banquets were offered to the town’s elderly inhabitants. The Begum also ran a charitable foundation, the Om Habibeh Foundation, which tackled poverty in Aswan, Egypt, where she inherited her husband’s villa by the Nile. At home in Le Cannet, she established a home for the elderly. It was not in her nature either to forget, or to try to hide, her humble origins. In the last years of her life, she made an outstanding donation to the town, enabling it to renew its school property.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan at Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers

Begum Om Habibeh, Le Cannet, Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers, Le Cannet, 1997

She also contributed to the creation of the Jardin des Oliviers, for which the town showed its gratitude by erecting a bronze statue by Charles-Louis La Salle, unveiled by the mayor of Le Cannet Rocheville, in her image. She last appeared in public for the inauguration of this garden in 1997. She was also vèry happy that she could be present at the wedding of Princess Zahra Aga Khan with businessman Mark Boyden, June 21, 1997 in Paris.

Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers

Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers Park

Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Le Cannet, Le Jardin Des Oliviers, Avenue Thiers, bronze statue of Om Habibeh by Charles-Louis La Salle

Before her death, the late Begum arranged for Yakymour, the home of which she and her husband were so fond, to be retained for use by the Aga Khan family. She also planned that a large part of her estate be donated to two foundations closely associated with the family: The Aga Khan Foundation, Geneva, a non-profit organisation established by the current Aga Khan in 1967, which oversees and supports major international programmes in health, education and rural development, in some of the poorest regions of Asia and Africa, and the Bellerive Foundation in Geneva, established by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in 1977, which is devoted to the protection of the environment, conservation of natural resources and the safeguarding of human and animal rights.

There was no doubting her enduring devotion. “Now all I have left to hope for”, she said shortly before her death, “is that Allah will take me to his side”. Begum Om Habibeh ‘Mata Salamat’ aka Yvette Labrousse died on 1 July 2000, in Le Cannet, near Cannes, at the age of 94 years, and is buried next to her beloved husband at the Aga Khan’s sandstone mausoleum in Aswan. The couple had no children. She was survived by her stepson, Sadruddin Aga Khan, and three step-grandchildren, Karim Aga Khan the current Aga Khan, Amyn Aga Khan and Yasmin Aga Khan, who are the children of the late Prince Aly Khan, who died in 1960 and who was the eldest son of the late Aga Khan.

The jamat will recall with fondness and affection her support for the work of My late beloved grandfather, and also her devoted care and attention to Him particularly in the later years of His life. Throughout her lifetime Mata Salamat retained an abiding interest to the progress and well-being of the jamat world-wide

Mawlânâ Hazar Imam Karim Aga Khan IV

She has now been reunited with her husband, who has been resting, since 1957, in a mausoleum built on their Nour es-Salam property, near the river Nile, in Aswan, Egypt. ‘Till today she is very respected and loved. For her eternal love, her honesty, her help (she hated the word ‘charity’!) and being só openminded…..

by Jean Amr

 

 

 

 The Om Habibeh Foundation

The Om Habibeh Foundation was established by the Aga Khan’s late step-grandmother, Om Habibeh, the Begum Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan. It is an Egyptian, not-for-profit organisation of long-standing that has been contributing to, and supporting, a number of institutions, in the Aswan area, which are involved in healthcare, education and income generation for disadvantaged communities. The Foundation draws on the support and technical expertise of the agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network to advance the newly announced initiatives.

The Aga Khan Foundation

For more information:

Farees Nathoo
Aga Khan Foundation
Tel. +20 (22) 506 1570
Email: info@akdn.org

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings from Aswan

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Aswan Egypt

HH the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan in her boat on the Nile, Aswan (Click photo to enlarge).

After the death of her husband, she continued to live at Yakymour, though she always spent three months a year in the villa Nour el-Salam at Aswan.

Today, fifty years ago, a photograph arrived, to send lots of love…

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Photograph of her home Nour el-Salam in Aswan by Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, 1966 (picture private collection)(click pictures to enlarge).

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HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III estate auction

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Sotheby's

Born Yvette Labrousse in 1906 in Sete near Marseilles, France. Begum Om Habibeh was the fourth and last wife of the late Sultan Mohamed Aga Khan III, the 48 hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims in direct descent from the Profhet Muhammad through his cousin and son in law Ali and his daughter Fatima. The couple were married in Switzerland on October 9th, 1944.

The late Begum, following travels to Egypt, had already converted to islam before her marriage. Throughout her life she demonstrated a strong attechment to the faith and to its traditions of philantropy and concern for the less fortunate.The Begum took a particular interestin issues affecting woman and children’s welfare.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Kahn Yvette Labrousse Signed to Roger Flor, 1er coiffeur Elizabeth Arden, 1959

HH. Begum Om Habibeh Aga Kahn III (Photo made and signed by Sam Levin, Signed to Roger Flor, 1er coiffeur Elizabeth Arden by HH. Begum Om Habibeh Aga Kahn III, 1959, private collection).

Following her husband’s death in 1957, the late Begum moved between Le Cannet, Paris, Geneva and Aswan. In Le Cannet she was held in particular esteem and was known for her generosity towards the eldery, through the establishment of a retirement home.

Before her death, the late Begum arranged that all her estate, other than certain bequests, be donated to the Aga Khan Foundation, Geneva, to the Bellerive Foundation, Geneva, and to her own Om Habibeh Foundation. Today, 15 years ago, on November 15, 2000 Sotheby’s held the auction of Her Highness’s jewels posthumously, with respect to her wishes.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse neckless pearl

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III, her famous 5 row pearl-diamond neckless.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III, wearing her favorite 5 row pearl-diamond neckless, and  Harry Winston 51.85 carat diamond ring.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse Ring Diamond

Highly important diamond ring by Harry Winston. Claw-set with a  step-cut diamond weighting 51.85 carats, between tapered baguette diamond shoulders, mounted in platinum

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse Neckless Diamond

Magnificent diamond necklace. The front is decorated with a profusion of marquise and pear shaped and brilliant and tep-cut diamonds, continuing to the back with graduated step-cut diamonds, spaced by clusters of marquise and pear shaped and brilliant cut diamonds.

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse Earrings Diamond

French fine pair of cultered pearl and diamond earrings. The cluster surmounts set with pear and marquise shaped and brilliant cut diamonds, each supporting a cultured pearl dropmeasuring approximately14.8mm in diameter, and are mounted in platinum and 18k gold. The pearl pendants are detachable. Her Highness the Begum was wearing them very often, in both ways, with and without its pearls. 

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse

Another favorite pair of earrings for her where these pair of French diamond pendent earclips. The surmounts decorated with a cluster of pear and marquise shaped diamond, supporting tassels of graduated pear shaped diamonds. The clips are mounted in platinum 

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan Yvette Labrousse

 HH the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III attends the ‘My Fair Lady’ ball, hosted by Hélène Rochas in the Bois de Boulogne in 1965. HH the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III wore a gown of white lace and her favorite, also in her estate auction, her Bvlgari diamond and turquoise set. The set contains a  necklace, earclips and a bracelet that she is wearing in her hair, as the ‘first’ woman to do so, long before Princess Diana of Wales.

The auctions results totalled to SF41,249,800 – US$23,340,809 – £16,303,619 to benefit the aforementioned philanthropic institutions in overseeing and supporting major international programs in health, education and rural development in some of the poorest regions of Central and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as initiatives for the protection of the environment, conservation of natural resources and the safeguarding of human and animal rights.

Come into the beautiful world of Sotheby’s.

The Ball Of Belles Epoques

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Begum Om Habibeh at The Ball Of Belles Epoques in the Pavilion Dauphine, Paris, June 26, 1989 (photo by Auger Benjamin)(Click photo to enlarge).

Time flies, 26 years ago,  on a warm summer afternoon, at her Place Vendôme appartment I did the make-up for Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. Even we knew eachother vèry well, it was always a bit exciting to do, when it was for an ‘official’ moment. Today she was invited for ‘The Ball Of Belles Epoques’ in the Pavilion Dauphine, Paris. The party was organized by Austrian Baron Hubert von Patz, husband of Avon Products, Terry McConnell, for their son Terry von Patz. When she arrived, like all other guests she stood in front of the camera of Auger Benjamin, who photographed all the guests of ‘The Ball Of Belles Epoques’ in the Pavilion Dauphine, Paris.

We had some great few days together in Paris, we were drinking tea and eating macarons at Ladurée, and having breakfast and diner at the Ritz and like every year, she had a nice birthday present for me… A Rene Boivin watch. But above all, she was happy with all the compliments she got that night at the ‘The Ball Of Belles Epoques’

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by Jean Amr

The Begum by Charles Kiffer (1902 – 1992)

Charles Kiffer grew up in an artistic environment. His father had as a tailor, many famous artists as customer. His mother was a piano teacher. As a child he made drawings and caricatures of the friends and acquaintances of his parents. In 1918, Kiffer admitted to the École Supérieure des Beaux Artes, where he focused on painting. A drawing he made of Maurice Chevalier went so well, that he was commissioned to create posters for his shows. Kiffer was apart from painter and designer of posters also an accomplished graphic artist. From 1929 he produced his own lithographs.

Charles Kiffer

Begum Andrée Joséphine Carron Aga Khan by Charles Kiffer, Cartier Art Deco pendulettes (from privat collection), flowers from Bloom Flower Studio

Maurice Chevalier continued to remain faithful to him, and gave him his ’till the 1960’s commands for posters. Also many other greats knew where to find Kiffer, Brigit Bardot, Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, George Guétary, Charles Trenet, Josephine Baker, Andrée Joséphine Carron Aga Khan, Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, Gilbert Bécaud and Marcel Marceau – There was almost no French celebrity who does not accept to be immortalized by Charles Kiffer, during his long life. Charles Kiffer died on 20 January 1992 in Paris.

 

 

 

Yakymour: A place of fashion, beauté, art, flowers, beauty and… love!

 

YakymourYakymour, Le Cannet, France

Playing as a child in the garden of Yakymour. A happy, innocent time, thanx to ‘Grandma’ Om Habibeh ‘Mata Salamat’ Aga Khan and to Sadruddin, where I could be fully myself and forget ‘the bad things’, and get some strenght

Yakymour, the house of the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. She was born Yvette Blanche Labrousse in 1906, of a father who was a tramway driver and a town councillor for Le Cannet and a mother who was a seamstress. Nothing in her modest upbringing told anything of the glorious destiny that was to be hers. After bieng elected Miss Lyon in 1929, then Miss France in Paris in 1930, she joined the Miss Europe 1930 pageant in Paris, won by Miss Greece. She started to travel around the world and settled in Egypt.

 

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Yakymour, in her own handwriting, on the wall next to the gate of her home.

There Yvette Labrousse met her future husband, the Sultan Aga Khan III, 48th Imam of the Nizari Shia Ismaili community, whom she married on 9 October 1944 in Switzerland, and took the name of Om Habibeh (Little Mother of the Beloved) and became Begum, fully Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan. In 1954, Om Habibeh was given the title of ‘Mata Salamat’, which literally means serene or peaceful mother. She was the foutyh womn in Islamic history with that title! They settled in the Avenue Victoria villa at Le Cannet, above Cannes, on a hillside wich she had once looked on to from the flat in the Rue d’Antibes, for which planning permission applications had been submitted in 1937.

 

Yvette Labrousse Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan by Gyenes

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III

They named it Yakymour: Y for Yvette, ak for Aga Khan, mour for amour. Within this property surrounded by parkland, Her Higness La Bégum used to assemble the members of the Cannes film festival jury. When her husband died in 1957, he had stated in his will that his successor, his grandson Karim, would have Om Habibeh as advisor for the first seven years of his reign. Om Habibeh started building at Aswan, on top of the hill above there house, a mausoleum to her husband, immediately after his death, while finishing it took 16 months.

Her gesture of daily placing a red rose on her husband’s tomb while in Egypt (every day for 43 years, either the Begum or when she was away in Europe, Sheikh Ahmed Ibrahim, whom she hired in 1963 to spend eight hours a day chanting verses from the Koran over her late husband’s tomb, laid a fresh red rose there) enforced the reputation of the legendary romance between the Aga Khan III and Om Habebeh. After the death of her husband, she continued to live at Yakymour, though she always spent three months a year in the villa at Aswan, the site of her husband’s mausoleum.

France, Le Cannet, Yakymour

Yakymour, Le Cannet, France

As a widow, she travelled widely both for charity and for pleasure. She was a regular face at Ascot (she herself owned several horses), where she always caught the eye. In the 1950’s and 60’s she was a true fashion icon, and was a countless times on the cover of big magazines. Her advice on fashion was typically sensible: “Don’t choose what you like, but what suits you. To be elegant one must have discretion. The secret is in the details”. She was dearly loved by her people because of her generosity to the poor, childern, women and the elderly, and, by her own husband as well. She had a big heart for everybody. Also for people outside the Shia Ismaili community. No matter what kind of religion, man or women, or even sexual oriantation, she was véry openminded, Yakymour was an open house.

She also loved annimals a lot. Over the years she had several dogs and cats. ‘Every person and every animal should be loved, we are all creations from Allah. When a person is not good for animals, he can not be good to humans’. ‘We should take care of eachother, everybody should be loved!, We are here on earth to do good, and not to harm or judge people, so lets love’…. And that’s what she did!

Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

HH Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan III

Beauty was not only on the outside. It came from the heart. Highly popular, Her Highness La Bégum showed great generosity throughout her life. She made many donations to schools (‘education is the most impotant thing in life after being loved’ and ‘The highest result of education is tolerance’ she always said) and hospitals. But also donations to women’s shelters, Alzheimer foundation, and… Aids foundation.

For over forty years, banquets were offered to the town’s elderly inhabitants. The Begum also ran a charitable foundation (Om Habibeh Foundation) which tackled poverty in Aswan, Egypt, where she inherited her husband’s villa by the Nile. At home in Cannes, she established a home for the elderly. It was not in her nature either to forget, or to try to hide, her humble origins. In the last years of her life, she made an outstanding donation to the town, enabling it to renew its school property. She also contributed to the creation of the Jardin des Oliviers, for which the town showed its gratitude by erecting a bronze statue by Charles-Louis La Salle, in her image. She last appeared in public for the inauguration of this garden in 1997

But there was no doubting her enduring devotion. “Now all I have left to hope for”, she said shortly before her death, is that Allah will take me to his side”. Begum Om Habibeh ‘Mata Salamat’ aka Yvette Labrousse died on 1 July 2000, in Le Cannet, near Cannes, at the age of 94 years, and is buried next to her beloved husband at the Aga Khan’s sandstone mausoleum in Aswan. The couple had no children. She was survived by her stepson, Sadruddin Aga Khan, and three step-grandchildren, Karim Aga Khan the current Aga Khan, Amyn Aga Khan and Yasmin Aga Khan. She has now been reunited with her husband, who has been resting, since 1957, in a mausoleum built on their Nour es-Salam property, near the River Nile, in Aswan, Egypt. ‘Till today she is very respected and loved. For her eternal love, her honesty, her help (she hated the word ‘charity’!) and being só openminded…..

Om Habibeh, ‘Yaky’ I love you! Thanx for everything you showed me and teached me! Love always!

Jean Amr