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  • MOST VALUABLE JEWELLERY AUCTION IN HISTORY

    La Peregrina, custom designed by Cartier with Miss Taylor, made $11,842,500.

    The sale of 80 pieces from the Elizabeth Taylor Collection became the most valuable jewellery auction in history at Christie’s in New York on December 13. It made $115,932,000.

    The top lot was La Peregrina, a legendary pearl found in the Gulf of Panama in the 1500’s. It is 203 grains in size, equivalent to 50 carats. It has been owned by Spanish and French royals and British aristocrats. The pearl was bought for Taylor by Richard Burton in 1969.  It made $11,842,500 now, he paid $37,000 dollars then. No less than seven new auction records were achieved: price per carat for a colorless diamond and for a ruby; a pair of natural pearl ear pendants; for a pearl jewel and for an historic pearl; an Indian jewel and for an emerald jewel.

    The scene at Christie's in New York.

    Christie’s said the atmosphere was electric.  “This sale marked the powerful start of Christie’s historic week of sales auctioning the jewelery, fashion, accessories and memorabilia from the Collection of Elizabeth Taylor between December 13-16 in tandem with the online-only sale (December 3-17)” said Marc Porter, chairman and president, Christie’s, Americas.

    The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, of 33.19 carats, D color, potentially internally flawless, realized $8,818,500. The Bvlgari emerald suite, diamond and emerald jewellery acquired between 1962 and 1967 over repeat trips to Bvlgari on Via Condotti in Rome, realised $24,799,000.  It comprises a pendant brooch, necklace, ring, flower brooch, earrings and bracelet. (See examples on the Top Ten which follows this piece).

    The previous auction record for a jewelery collection was for the Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor which made $50,281,887 US dollars in Geneva in 1987.

    The Burton wedding bands.

    THE second part of the jewellery auction with 190 pieces on offer on December 14 brought in an additional $21,303,575. The Burton wedding bands, two diamond and gold eternity bands from their marriages in 1964 in Montreal and in 1975 in Botswana, sparked a 15 minute bidding battle.  They made $1,022,500 over an estimate of $6,000-8,000.

    The combined total for the two jewelery sales amounted to US$ 137,235,675.  “The spectacular results of the Evening Sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s iconic jewels sparked a surge of interest from collectors around the world. It took eight hours and three auctioneers to sell 190 more jewels from Elizabeth Taylor’s storied collection,” noted François Curiel, International Director of Jewelry at Christie’s.

    (See posts on antiquesandartireland.com for December 9, December 2, November 14, September 7).

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