Elizabeth Taylor jewel sale breaks record for single collection
NEW YORK, December 13, 2011 – The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: The Legendary Jewels Evening Sale achieved $115,932,000 (£74,196,480/€89,267,640), becoming the most valuable jewellery auction in history.
The sale was more than double the record for a single collection set in 1987 when the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels sold for just over $50 million.
The sale set the tone for Christie’s four-day series of landmark auctions devoted to the collection of Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor (13-16 December 2011).
A tribute to the discerning eye of this celebrated film star, fashion icon, and humanitarian, the sale was 100 percent sold by lot and 100 percent by value, with 24 of the 80 jewels fetching over $1 million and 6 jewels over $5 million.
Several world auction records were established: price per carat for a colourless diamond and for a ruby; a pair of natural pearl ear pendants; a pearl jewel; an Indian jewel and an emerald jewel.
The pattern was set early on, when one of the most historic pieces, a 203-grain (equivalent to 55 carat) pear-shaped 16th-century pearl, once owned by England’s Mary Tudor and later by Spanish queens Margarita and Isabel, sold for $11,842,500 including commission, setting an auction record for a pearl.
Richard Burton, who married Taylor twice, had bought the pearl in 1969 at auction for $37,000, and Taylor, who died in March at age 79, commissioned Cartier to design a ruby-and-diamond necklace mount. It had been estimated to sell for $2 million to $3 million.
From the very first item, a charm bracelet estimated at about $30,000, it was clear the Taylor cachet was delivering beyond expectations. The bracelet fetched $326,500.
Minutes later an ivory and gold necklace featuring theater medallions soared to more than 100 times its $1,500 to $2,000 estimate, selling for $314,500.