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Jeweler Fred Leighton Dies at 85

Aug 6, 2017 4:55 AM   By Rapaport News
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Fred Leighton, the legendary former owner of the estate-jewelry business that bears his name, has died at the age of 85.

Leighton, born Murray Mondschein, grew up in The Bronx, New York, and developed a taste for retailing after working at a local gift store, according to an interview with People magazine in 2002. After serving in the army and spending some time traveling around Europe, he began importing Mexican crafts. He later took over the Fred Leighton trading company, transforming it into a leading business for selling heirlooms.

“People began coming into the store to sell these amazing things that belonged to their grandmothers,” he told People. “A place like Sotheby’s didn’t have that many auctions, so you had to wait a long time for your money. I was buying things outright.”

He eventually became a supplier to the stars: Celebrities such as Kate Winslet, Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Kidman have worn his items.

He legally changed his name to Fred Leighton in 1986 because “people kept coming in and asking to talk to Fred Leighton,” he said in the interview. “I decided they should be able to.”

Greg Kwiat, who acquired the brand in 2009, eulogized the jeweler in a statement at the end of July.

“We honor the extraordinary life and legacy of our namesake founder,” Kwiat said. “He had an incomparable passion for vintage jewelry and the vision to marry these remarkable jewels with fashion. He is a legend and he will be deeply missed. The Kwiat family is honored to carry on his legacy and to ensure his passion endures for generations to come.”
Tags: Estate jewelry, Fred Leighton, Greg Kwiat, kwiat, Murray Mondschein, new york, Rapaport News
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