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The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor - Christie's New York
November 21, 2011  | 

She glides around the corner into view, her opulent gown clinging to her famous curves. “These have always brought me luck,” she says pulling a diamond pendant earring from her ear and throwing it on the poker table. The iconic, early 90s commercial moment for her fragrance, White Diamonds, embodies Elizabeth Taylor’s star quality. Ever the epitome of a Hollywood luminary, Ms. Taylor will always be remembered for her mysterious and spellbinding glance, raw yet vulnerable emotion, colorful and often tempestuous personal life – and perhaps the signature of her larger-than-life persona - her magnificent collection of jewels and haute couture.

A leading lady for the ages, Ms. Taylor captivated audiences of the silver screen and inspired the world with her humanitarian efforts. Now nine months after her death, Christie’s New York will auction some of the star’s most prized possessions, including jewels, fashion and art.

Following an eight-city world tour, the collection will be the subject of a four-day series of landmark sales. Beginning with an evening sale on December 13, 2011, Christie’s will present 80 of Ms. Taylor’s legendary jewels with an additional 189 pieces presented during a day sale on December 14th. Subsequently, the evening sale later that day will include the collection of haute couture followed by fashion and accessories on December 15th. The auction series concludes with fine and decorative art, and film memorabilia on December 16th.

The jewelry series, celebrated as one of the greatest private collections ever assembled, is expected to bring in an estimated $30-million and has been referred to as the crown jewels of Hollywood. “There’s the romance behind every single piece,” says Rahul Kadakia, Head of Jewelry Department, Christie’s Americas. “It was given by Richard Burton, by Mike Todd. There was so much pleasure in the way she received every jewel and there was so much emotion in each and every one of these pieces.”

One of the highlighted items from this collection, and the priciest, is the internally flawless, 33.19-carat Elizabeth Taylor Diamond – a cherished white diamond ring Ms. Taylor wore virtually every day. “My ring gives me the strangest feeling for beauty,” the star once noted. “With its sparks of red and white and blue and purple, and on and on, it sort of hums with its own beatific life.” A gift from husband Richard Burton in 1968, the spectacular stone is estimated to sell for at least $2.5 million.

“It was clear that she possessed an expert’s eye for craftsmanship, rarity, quality and history,” says Francois Curiel, International Jewelry Director and President of Christie’s Asia. “She collected the best pieces from the best periods, and as a result her collection boasts exquisite examples from the most celebrated of jewelry designers, including BVLGARI, Boucheron, Cartier, JAR, Schlumberger, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels, among others.”

The equally spectacular fashion series boasts museum-quality pieces fashioned by Chanel, Christian Dior, Gianfranco Ferre, Givenchy, Halston, Tiziani, Valentino, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent. This extraordinarily well-preserved collection is expected to bring in $20-million dollars and includes some of Ms. Taylor’s most memorable ensembles collected and wore over the past five decades. “The stunning outfits she wore to galas, award ceremonies, AIDS benefits and even her own wedding to Richard Burton are all here, lovingly maintained along with the handbags, shoes, hats and other accessories that completed her superstar looks,” says Marc Porter, Chairman and President of Christie’s Americas.

This monumental event is a once in a lifetime opportunity for collectors of jewels and couture as well as passionate Elizabeth Taylor fans to acquire a piece of art and Hollywood history. And hopefully the new owners will find their own luck in Ms. Taylor’s finest pieces.

Honoring Ms. Taylor’s charitable spirit, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of select publications, exhibition admission and event sponsorship will be donated to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF).