Wednesday, 21 December 2011
The Legendary Jewels of Elizabeth Taylor – the sale the world was waiting for, took place this past week. Whilst almost 1000 lots were reserved for the online sale, the 49 largest pieces – those either mentioned or worn in photos by the icon – occurred in an evening sale on 13 November to a packed auction room at Christies. The results were staggering with 100% clearance, new world auction records and a total sales figure of $115.9 million - making it the most valuable private collection of jewels ever sold at auction.
Records broken were:
The price per carat for a colourless diamond – the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond (formerly the Krupp Diamond), the rectangular-cut, 33.19-carat stone that Richard Burton bought for Elizabeth in 1968, sold for $8.18 million to a Korean business buyer, well exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $3.5 million. The world record now stands at $265,697 per carat.
The price per carat for a ruby - the Van Cleef & Arpels 8.24ct ruby and diamond ring Burton gave to Elizabeth for Christmas 1968 sold for $4,226,500, four times the estimate.
The price for natural pearl ear pendants – made by Bvlgari, pearl studs suspend a detachable drop shaped natural pearl with a marquise diamond linking the stud and drops. The earrings were a gift from Taylor/Burton’s attorney and friend, Aaron Frosch. They sold for $1,986,500 four times their pre sale estimate.
The price for a pearl jewel and the price for a historic jewel – ‘La Peregina’ brought the top price in the sale. Found in the 16th century in the Gulf of Panama by a slave (who earned his freedom with the find), the 203 grains/50 carat pearl became part of the crown jewels of Spain before being given to Phillip II’s of Spain’s English bride, Queen Mary I. It returned to Spain in the crown jewels before it was taken along with other jewels by Joseph Bonaparte as he fled Spain. It then went back to England to the Duke of Abercorn’s wife, Louisa Hamilton. Richard Burton purchased it in January 1969 and gave it to Elizabeth for Valentine’s Day. Before it was set into its present ruby and diamond necklace by Cartier, the pearl went missing in a hotel suite – being found in the mouth of one of Elizabeth’s dogs –where it thankfully came to no harm. La Peregrina sold to a private buyer whose $11,842,500 payment broke the previous record for a historic pearl by over $9 million and a pearl jewel by $4 million.
The price for an Indian jewel – The Taj Mahal diamond, found in the 17th century has a persian nscription – the name of the Shah Jahangir’s wife (Nur Jahan), the year of his reigtn.. It then when to the Shah’s son, Mugal Emperor Shah Jahan who presented the gem to Mumtaz-I-Mahal, his beloved wife. After bearing him 14 children she died in 1631 and the emperor was grief stricken. In her memory he built the tomb the Taj Mahal. Cartier set the diamond on a neckchain in 1972 that was made to resemble the silk cord it is thought to have originally had. Burton bought it for Taylor for her 40th birthday in 1972. With a pre-sale estimate of $300,000-$500,000, it sold to an anonymous buyer for $8.8 million. The previous world record for an Indian jewel was $5.2 million.
The price for an emerald jewel and price of an emerald by carat – given to Taylor by Burton on the occasion of their engagement in 1962, the 18.26-carat emerald and diamond pendant brooch by Bulgari sold for $6.6 million, or $360,268 per carat, after a pre-sale high estimate of $700,000.
Eighteen more lots went for over $1,000,000 each:
Emerald and diamond necklace by Bvlgari, a gift from Burton to Taylor on their marriage in 1964 - $6,130,500
Sapphire and diamond sautoir by Bvlgari, a gift from Burton to Taylor on her 40th birthday in 1972 - $5,906,500
Antique “Mike Todd” Diamond Tiara, a gift from Mike Todd to Elizabeth in 1957 - $4,226,500
Bvlgari emerald and diamond bracelet, a gift from Burton to Taylor for her 35th birthday in 1967 - $4,002,500
Ruby and diamond necklace by Cartier, a gift from Mike Todd in 1957 - $3,778,500
Bvlgari Emerald and diamond ring, a gift from Burton - $3,330,500
Emerald and diamond ear pendants by Bvlgari - $3,218,500
Antique diamond necklace, made c.1806 it was purchased by Elizabeth in 1993 - $2,658,500
The Burton Cognac Diamond Ring by Van Cleef & Arpels, the 32.14 carat ring was a gift from Richard Burton - $2,322,500
Coloured diamond ring by Lorraine Schwartz, an intense 27.42ct yellow diamond - $2,098,500
Coloured and white diamond ear pendants by Bvlgari a gift from Eddie Fisher for Elizabeth’s 30th birthday in 1962 - $1,650,500
Bvlgari emerald and diamond flower brooch c. 1960 - $1,538,500
“The Dame Ear Pendants” with coral and multi gems by Van Cleef & Arpels, designed by Elizabeth and worn on the occasion of her investiture as a Dame Commander of the British OEmpire in 2000 - $1,426,500
Antique sapphire and diamond brooch, a gift from Richard Burton - $1,314,500
Prince of Wales diamond brooch, formerly part of the jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, it was purchased by Elizabeth in 1987 - $1,314,500
“The Night of the Iguana” diamond, sapphire and emerald dolphin brooch by Tiffany & Co, given by Burton to Taylor for the premiere of the film The Night of the Iguana in 1964 $1,202,500
“The Burton Diamond Brooch” by Van Cleef & Arpels, a Christmas gift from Richard Burton in 1967 - $1,142,500
Bvlgari coloured and white diamond flower brooch, a gift from Eddie Fisher for Elizabeth’s 30th birthday in 1962 - $1,142,500
The lowest amount realised on the evening was $116,500 for a gold and multi gemstone charm bracelet.
But the buying frenzy didn’t stop there! By the time two more rounds of jewelry had been sold, a record for any jewelry auction had been set: $132 million.
The second evening’s sale on 14 December for 189 lots realised $21.3 million with prices from $6875 for a suite of paper jewellery to $1,482,500 for a diamond pendant necklace.
The third sale also on 14 December was mainly Elizabeth’s haute couture with 67 lots totalling $2,600,750, with a range from $1,375 (a Saks beaded evening top) to $662,500 (Andy Warhol portrait of Taylor).
The fourth sale for fashion and accessories on 15 December had 325 lots from $563 (Emikio Puccio 2 piece ensemble) to $110,500 (Louis Vuitton luggage) and realised $2,941,162.
The fifth sale held on 16 December was for fine and decorative art and film memorabilia including costumes realised prices of $1,188 (an arts and crafts clock) to $386,500 ( large gray scholar’s rock) over 144 lots, with a sale total of $4,441,187.
And finally the online only auction of over 900 smaller items finished with a total sale value of $9,537,900!
It just goes to show that the impossible to price element of stardust was not considered in the original estimates, which were obviously completely blown out of the water by the keen bidding.
The jewels are now to be scattered across the world, Elizabeth’s job as custodian of some of the world’s most stupendous baubles now at an end.