Evalyn Walsh McLean (August 1, 1886 – April 26, 1947) was an American mining heiress and socialite who was famous for being the last private owner of the 45-carat (9.0 g) Hope Diamond (which was bought in 1911 for $180,000 from Pierre Cartier)  as well as another famous diamond, the 94-carat (18.8 g) Star of the East. She also was the author, with Boyden Sparkes, of a memoir, Father Struck It Rich.
She was the only daughter of Thomas Walsh, an Irish immigrant miner and prospector turned multimillionaire, and his wife, Carrie Bell Reed, a former schoolteacher.
In 1908, she married Edward Beale McLean, the heir to The Washington Post and The Cincinnati Enquirer publishing fortune. They had four children: Vinson Walsh McLean, Edward Beale McLean Jr, John Roll McLean II, and Evalyn Washington McLean. Edward McLean eventually died in a mental institution.
Her highly promoted trip to the Russian SFSR is mentioned in the Cole Porter song, Anything Goes in the lines "When Mrs Ned McLean (God bless her) / Can get Russian reds to "yes" her, /Then I suppose / Anything goes."
The site of the McLean home, Friendship — a sprawling country mansion built for her father-in-law by John Russell Popeand which was located on Tenleytown Road, N.W. — is now a condominium complex known as McLean Gardens. (The original house was demolished in the 1940s though some of the property’s garden features remain intact, as does theGeorgian-style ballroom.) A later residence, also known as Friendship, is located at the corner of R Street, N.W. and Wisconsin Avenue, and remains a private home. Her childhood home, a grandiose Second Empire-style mansion at 2020 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., is now the Indonesian embassy.
McLean was a victim of Gaston Means, a former BOI agent, murder suspect, and grifter, who claimed he had set a deal to free the Lindbergh baby for a ransom of overUS$100,000, which Evalyn McLean advanced him. Means disappeared with the money, only to resurface months later in California, and ask McLean for additional funds. Suspicious of Means’ activities, she helped lead police to him; he was also wanted for other various crimes and civil actions. This ultimately led to his conviction and imprisonment on larceny charges.
The Hope Diamond was associated with a curse, and her first son was killed in a car accident. Her husband Ned ran off with another woman and eventually died in a sanitarium. Their family newspaper, the Washington Post, went bankrupt and eventually her daughter died of an overdose, and one of her grandsons died in the Vietnam war. Evalyn never believed the curse had anything to do with her misfortunes.
Several accounts, based on remarks written by the gem’s first known owner, French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, suggest that the gemstone originated in India, in the Kollur mine in the Guntur district Pradesh (which at the time was part of the Golconda kingdom), in the seventeenth century. It is unclear who had initially owned the gemstone, where it had been found, by whom, and in what condition. But the first historical records suggest that a French merchant-traveler named Jean-Baptiste Tavernier obtained the stone in the mid-1600s, possibly by purchase or by theft. Tavernier brought to Paris a large uncut stone which was the first known precursor to the Hope Diamond. This large stone became known as the Tavernier Blue diamond. It was a crudely cut triangular shaped stone of 115 carats (23.0 g). Another estimate is that it weighed 112.23 carats (22.446 g) before it was cut. Tavernier’s book, the Six Voyages(French: Les Six Voyages de J. B. Tavernier), contains sketches of several large diamonds that he sold to Louis XIV in possibly 1668 or 1669; while the blue diamond is shown among these, Tavernier mentions the mines at "Gani" Kollur as a source of colored diamonds, but made no direct mention of the stone. Historian Richard Kurin builds a highly speculative case for 1653 as the year of acquisition, but the most that can be said with certainty is that Tavernier obtained the blue diamond during one of his five voyages to India between the years 1640 and 1667. One report suggests he took 25 diamonds to Paris, including the large rock which became the Hope, and sold all of them to King Louis XIV. Another report suggested that in 1669, Tavernier sold this large blue diamond along with approximately one thousand other diamonds to King Louis XIV of France for 220,000 livres, the equivalent of 147 kilograms of pure gold. In a newly published historical novel, The French Blue, gemologist and historian Richard W. Wise proposed that the patent of nobility granted Tavernier by Louis XIV was a part of the payment for the Tavernier Blue. According to the theory, during that period Colbert, the King’s Finance Minister, regularly sold offices and noble titles for cash, and an outright patent of nobility, according to Wise, was worth approximately 500,000 livres making a total of 720,000 livres, a price about half Tavernier’s estimate of the gem’s true value. There has been some controversy regarding the actual weight of the stone; Morel believed that the 1123⁄16 carats stated in Tavernier’s invoice would be in old French carats, thus 115.28 metric carats.
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