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Liz Taylor’s Jewelry Breaks Records at Christie’s

80 Lots of the Collection Sell For $116M

Dec 14, 2011 3:59 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... The Elizabeth Taylor collection of jewels surpassed expectations  fetching record prices at Christie’s New York. The auction house reported that the first of the four day sale garnered $115.9 million, making it the most valuable jewelry auction in history. All of the 80 lots placed on offer were sold. 

''For many, there was both the desire to share in the stories behind Elizabeth Taylor’s iconic jewels and to dream of perhaps acquiring one. For others, the sale provided the opportunity to purchase unique jewels, which brought Elizabeth Taylor such joy and reflect her remarkable taste and connoisseurship,'' said François Curiel, the international jewelry director and president of Christie’s Asia.

The top lot sold yesterday was ''La Peregrina'' (pictured), a natural pearl, diamond, ruby and cultured pearl necklace by Cartier which fetched $11.8 million, well above the high presale estimate of $3 million, and setting a record for a pearl jewel sold at auction.

The famous ''Elizabeth Taylor Diamond,'' a rectangular-shaped, 33.19-carat, D, and potentially flawless diamond sold for $8.8 million, or $265,697 per carat, to a private Asian buyer. The diamond was given to Taylor in 1968 by her husband at that time, Richard Burton, and  had a presale estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million, and set a new auction record for a colorless diamond per carat.

The third top lot was ''The Taj Mahal Diamond,'' which was a gift from Burton on Taylor's 40th birthday. The piece is an imperial Mughal Spinal necklace weighing 1,131.59 carats set with an inscribed heart-shaped table-cut diamond sold for $8.8 million, against a presale estimate of $500,000.

Other big sellers included an 18.26-carat, emerald and diamond pendant brooch by Bulgari, which sold for $6.6 million, or $360,268 per carat, while an emerald and diamond necklace by Bulgari fetched $6.1 million.  

In total, seven new auction records were set, including the price per carat for a colorless diamond and for a ruby; a pair of natural pearl ear pendants; a pearl jewel; an Indian jewel and an emerald jewel, Christie’s reported.

Marc Porter, the chairman of Christie’s America’s, noted that the auction drew in bids from all over the world. In the run up to the event, Christie’s took the collection to Hong Kong, Moscow, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Dubai, Geneva and Paris. ''Thousands of collectors and admirers braved long lines to get a glimpse of one of the greatest collections of all time,'' he said.

The second and third sessions of the jewelry collection will take place December 14, along with Taylor’s iconic haute couture collection. Her fashion and accessories collection is scheduled to go under the hammer on Thursday while her fine and decorative art and film memorabilia is scheduled to be auctioned on Friday. Taylor’s impressionist and modern art collection is scheduled to be auctioned in February by Christie’s London. 

Taylor was 79 when she died on March 23, 2011.

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Tags: Avi Krawitz, christies, Christie's, diamonds, Elizabeth Taylor, Jewelry, pearls, Rapaport
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