Liz Taylor's jewellery auction smashes record in New York

Dec 14, 2011

Bidders from around world push Christie's haul to $115m – with La Peregrina fetching $11m

NINE MONTHS after her death, Liz Taylor still has the power to break records. An auction in New York last night of her fabulous collection of jewellery – the so-called Crown Jewels of Hollywood – had been expected to bring in about $30m. In the event, the sale raised nearly four times that, with bidders from around the world paying a total of $115m to make it the most valuable private collection of jewels ever sold at auction.

Zsa Zsa Gabor's daughter, Constance Francesca Gabor Hilton, was one of those who attended the Christie’s jamboree. Swathed in fur, and with a much younger fiancee on her arm, she told The Daily Telegraph: "A woman has the right to feel beautiful, don't you agree?"

It became clear this would be an extraordinary night when the first lot, a gold and gem charm bracelet estimated at $25,000-$35,000, went for more than ten times that - $326,500.

As more and more estimates were easily surpassed, the auctioneer said at one point: "I don't even know where to begin. Next lot, starting at $10million?"

He was only half joking. The so-called La Peregrina necklace, featuring a huge pearl once painted by Velasquez and owned by Mary Tudor, fetched $11,842,500.

La Peregrina was one of the many gifts of jewellery from her husband Richard Burton, to whom she was married twice. Another piece was the 33.29 carat diamond ring he gave her in 1968 which sold for $8,818,500 last night. She wore it almost every day. According to the Daily Mail, the only times it ever left her hand were when she invited friends to try it on.

Some pieces she saved for special occasions, like the Prince of Wales brooch she bought at auction in 1987 following the death of its owner, the Duchess of Windsor, an acquaintance of Taylor’s.

But her other jewels she wore to "do wholesome things like swim laps" in the pool, she wrote in her book My Love Affair with Jewellery.

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