“It’s one of the most extraordinary auctions that Christie’s has ever had and a testament to the affection for Elizabeth Taylor worldwide,” said Marc Porter, chairman and president of Christie’s Americas, reports the New York Post.
The highest price for a single item – $11.8 million – was set by the “La Peregrina,” the 16th-century pearl on a necklace designed by Cartier, which husband Richard Burton gave Taylor in 1969. It carried a pre-auction estimate of between $2 million to $3 million, and when bidding passed the $10 million mark, the auction gallery burst into applause.
Its final price also set a record for most expensive single pearl jewel. In all, the auction broke seven world records, including those for the per carat price for a colorless diamond, for an Indian jewel, and a ruby per carat, reports Forbes.
A 33.19-carat diamond ring Burton also gave Taylor – the battling Burtons, as they were known, married and divorced twice, but never fell out of love – fetched $8.8 million.
Another Burton gift, the heart-shaped Taj Mahal Diamond, which he gave her for her 40th birthday in 1972, sold for $8.8 million, after a pre-auction estimate of $300,000–$500,000.The original owner was believed to be the emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666), who built the Taj in memory of his late, beloved wife Mumtaz-i-Mahal.
The new buyer was reported to be Daniel Pang, representing a Korean hotel conglomerate that intends to display the treasure at the flagship hotel in Seoul.
The screen legend’s diamond and sapphire ring, a gift form her pal Michael Jackson, went for $600,000.
Additional sales of Taylor property – her art, wardrobe and mementos – is being held later this week at Christie’s New York. Her collection of impressionist and modern art is to be auctioned at Christie’s in London in February.
By Stephen M. Silverman