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  • Archive for December, 2011


    Friday, December 2nd, 2011

    La Peregrina, a natural pearl, diamond, ruby and cultured pearl necklace by Cartier. (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: IT MADE $11,842,500.

    IT cost Richard Burton $37,000 to outbid a member of the Spanish Royal Family and buy La Peregrina for Elizabeth Taylor in 1969.  The legendary late 16th century jewel is one of the largest and most symmetrically perfect pear-shaped pearls in the world.  It now forms part of a natural pearl, diamond, ruby and cultured pearl necklace designed by Elizabeth Taylor with Al Durante of Cartier.  The necklace is Lot 12 in the opening sale of  The Elizabeth Taylor Collection at Christie’s in New York on the evening of December 13.  (There is a video about the collection on this website).

    Estimated at $2/3 million, La Peregrina has an incredible provenance.  King Philip II of Spain (1582-1598) gave the pearl to Mary I of England before their marriage in 1554. When Mary died in 1558, the pearl returned to Spain, where it remained on show in the royal court. It was owned by subsequent Spanish Kings Philip III, (1598-1621), Philip IV, (1621-1665), Charles II (1665-1700), Philip V (1700-1746), Fernando VI (1746-1759), Charles III (1759-1778) and Carlos IV (1778-1808). Spain lost the jewel in 1808 when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded, thereafter earning the nickname La Peregrina (the Wanderer). It was owned by Joseph Bonaparte, of France (1808-circa 1844) and Prince Louis Napoleon, of France (circa 1844-circa 1848). It was sold by Charles Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) while in exile in London to the 2nd Marques of Abercorn (circa 1848-1914) and remained in the Abercorn family until Burton purchased it for Elizabeth Taylor in 1969.

    The catalogue describes it as follows:  “Suspending a detachable drop-shaped natural pearl pendant, weighing approximately 202.24 grains or 50.56 carats, measuring approximately 17.35 – 17.90 x 25.50 mm, with an old mine-cut and rose-cut diamond and silver foliate bail, suspended from a circular-cut diamond flame motif set with a pear-shaped ruby, spaced by a detachable pear-shaped ruby and natural pearl link, to the two-strand necklace, comprising fifty-six natural pearls and four cultured pearls, intersected by eight circular-cut diamond and cushion-cut ruby flame motif plaques, mounted in platinum and gold, La Peregrina late 16th century; diamond bail early 19th century; natural pearl, diamond, ruby and cultured pearl necklace by Cartier 1972, 13½ ins., pendant may also be worn as a brooch, accompanied by the seed pearl and platinum neckchain from the time of the purchase at auction in 1969, 30¾ ins.”

    On December 13 Christie’s New York will present 80 of Ms. Taylor’s most iconic jewels in a special evening sale, followed by 189 additional jewels in two day sale sessions on December 14.

    (See posts on for November 14, September 25 and September 7)


    Thursday, December 1st, 2011

    THERE is plenty to collect at the second day of Mealy’s two day fine and decorative arts sale on December 7. It features around 600 lots. The auction will include furniture, paintings, taxidermy, clocks, barometers, wine, rugs and textiles. The catalogue is on-line.   Here is a small sample from what is on offer:

    Lot 1102

    The top from a 19th century Killarney centre table, one of four Killarney pieces in the auction. (6,000-9,000). (Click to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS MADE 7,500

    lot 1256

    After Benjamin West (1738-1830), The Death of General Wolfe. (Wolfe was a British Army general known for his training reforms, remembered chiefly for his victory over the French in Canada. He died in 1759 at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. (1,800-2,500). (Click to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,200


    lot 1130

    A late 18th century Irish parcel gilt wall mirror (3,500-4,500). (Click to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,000.

    Lot 1050

    A c1900 ebonised octagonal centre table with the Taj Mahal inlaid in mother of pearl (1,200-1800). (Click to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,300.

    (See post on for November 28).