Before Princess Antoinette Millard was a member of the Saudi royal family—topped with a diamond tiara at Madison Avenue shop Kaufmann de Suisse, which she dubbed her “royal jewelers”—she was simply Antoinette Millard, or even Lisa Walker, perhaps her birth name. That’s how she was known at her workaday brick building at Third and 89th, where she rented a one-bedroom apartment. “Maybe she kept the tiara in her handbag, because I never saw it,” says her doorman, lounging behind a Formica reception desk.
On May 8, Millard was dubbed “the Princess” by the tabs, after she claimed to have been mugged on 71st Street and robbed of $262,000 of jewelry insured by Chubb; she is currently in the princess-unfriendly confines of Rikers Island. (Millard’s lawyer did not return calls.) But, as it happens, the Princess was only one story. To some, Millard, 40, was a lawyer with a degree from Boston University; then she was a model for the Bergdorf Goodman catalogue. Or she was a divorcée awaiting a windfall, after her ex-husband finally sold their $7 million Nantucket home. She was a convert to Judaism, and courted invitations to Seders. She was a triplet with two loving sisters.
“I think Antoinette said she raised money for the symphony,” says the author Robert Stewart, who first met Millard at a Halloween party at the Guggenheim, with her boyfriend at the time—all were enjoying each other’s company, and planned to meet for brunch the next day, at the boyfriend’s suite at the Carlyle. But no one was staying there under such a name. “My father always told me to register under a fake name,” explained Millard, calling Stewart from her cell phone.
Millard used jewelry like she used identities. She was a daily visitor to such shops as Cartier and Fred Leighton. The proprietors and managers were her friends, but it was not enough: After one purchase near her birthday, she asked a shop owner if she could tell people that he had given her some of the baubles as a present. At some stores, Millard returned for exchange nearly half of everything she purchased—I am so sick of these jade chandelier earrings—and, like many customers of expensive jewelers, tended to run behind on her bill. She began selling pieces, at a loss, to buy more, and eventually found herself in trouble. She turned to the only people she knew could help her—the jewelers themselves. In a handwritten letter to an owner of a top-end boutique, Michael Eigen, she wrote, “I have spent nearly $235,930.84 in your store in a year and a half. I deserve respect to be given to me … I need to come up with $16,805 for my tumor near my heart at the end of the month … I am tired of people taking advantage of me and my money.”