The December 13-14 sale by auction house Christie’s will follow a global three-month tour that will also include Taylor’s couture, fine art and memorabilia, and will be the first of a series of auctions from the estate of the legendary film star who died in March.
Some 269 diamonds, pearls, rubies, rings, necklaces and even a tiara will be sold, with several of the most valuable and storied pieces tied to Taylor’s lengthy and complicated relationship with Richard Burton, whom she married twice and divorced twice.
Burton bought it in 1969 at an auction for $37,000, and Taylor commissioned Cartier to design a new ruby-and-diamond necklace mount. It is estimated to sell for $2 million to $3 million.
“Miss Taylor had been planning with Christie’s for years that when she dies everything would go out into the world. She always intended that other people should have the pleasure of the jewelry, the pleasure she had owning it. She wanted to share with other people. So here we are on the road with it,” said Deputy Chairman of Christie’s New York/Paris, Jonathan Rendell.
Leading the December 13 gala evening sale of 89 top lots is Taylor’s iconic 33.19-carat white diamond ring, a 1968 gift from Burton who purchased it at an auction for $300,000.
“I think the thing that everyone wants to come and see is the ‘baby diamond’ which is her everyday diamond ring which is 33 carats. And it really is the ring she wore every day. So that’s the thing she’s probably most famous for. As Andy Warhol said; ‘I’d like to come back as a big ring on Elizabeth Taylor‘s finger’. And that’s what we’ve got here,” said Rendell.
The trustees of Taylor’s estate have renamed it The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, and it is estimated to fetch $2.5 million to $3.5 million but could fetch much more.
“So there are amazing emeralds, for example, from Richard Burton, fantastic yellow diamonds from Eddie Fisher. And then a very touching ruby set from Mike Todd that when he gave it to her, they were by the swimming pool in the South of France, she put on the rubies, the necklace, the bracelet, the earrings, went swimming,” said Rendell.
Taylor’s estate was valued at anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion at the time of her death from congestive heart failure on March 23, aged 79.
In keeping with Taylor’s humanitarian work, a portion of the proceeds from exhibitions, events and publications related to the auction will be donated to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which the actress founded in 1991.
The series of Taylor sales are individually devoted to jewelry, haute couture, fashion and accessories, decorative arts and memorabilia from Taylor’s Bel Air home, and Impressionist and modern art.
Taylor’s fame, as well as her eye for quality, are expected to drive interest, and boost prices.
“The jewelry, in jewelry terms, is valued somewhere fairly conservatively between 30 to 50 million U.S. dollars. But we don’t take into account the Elizabeth Taylor factor. It doesn’t get much more glamourous than Elizabeth Taylor‘s jewelry,” said Rendell.
Prices for items from the collections of other famous people ranging from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Marilyn Monroe to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor have soared to many times their pre-sale estimates.