Elizabeth Taylor auction breaks record at $116m

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Star’s jewellery smashes estimates with all 80 lots sold.

The Christie’s auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewellery in New York last night smashed auction world records with a white glove sale that achieved a total $116m (£74.7m) in bids, with all 80 lots sold.

The much-anticipated auction finally took place after months of pre-show touring of the late actress’s jewellery, with a stopover in London in September showcasing some of the key highlights of the auction, including Taylor’s 33.19 carat D colour, flawless diamond engagement ring given to her by Burton in 1968 – something she is said to have worn almost every day.

Last night’s auction took place at Christie’s in New York, with the room said to have been jammed with bidders while telephone bids were placed from around the world.

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A total six world records for jewellery at auction were broken, including that for pearl jewellery, price per carat of a D colour diamond and for the price achieved for Indian jewellery. Only two items are said to have sold within their estimates.

The auction room apparently laughed in astonishment during the bidding race for the top lot of the night – the La Peregrina necklace (pictured) – a 16th century pearl piece designed especially for Taylor by Cartier. It smashed its pre-sale estimate of up to $3m (£1.9m), with a closing bid of $11.8m (£7.6m). Applause and laughter apparently came when the lot hit the $10m mark.

Interestingly the La Peregrina necklace outshone what was expected to be the biggest lot of the night – Taylor’s 33.19 carat diamond ring. It sold for $8.8m (£5.6m), three times its $2.5m to $3.5m estimate, and setting a world record for price per carat for a D colour diamond.

The ring was bought by South Korean businessman Daniel Pang, who was bidding on behalf of Eland World. Pang said company owens several hotels and plans to exhibit the diamond, something it has done previously with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis memorabilia.

Rahul Kadakia, head of jewellery for Christie’s Americas, predicted that the auction would do very well. "This truly is one of the greatest jewellery collections in the world. But in my wildest dreams, I did not think we would outsell the estimate by five times."

Marc Porter, Christie’s Americas president and chairman, said the auction was "one of the most extraordinary sales Christie’s has ever had”, describing the fevered bidding as “testament to the love of Elizabeth Taylor”.

The auctioned followed a 10-day exhibition of Taylor’s jewellery, clothing and memorabilia at Christie’s New York. The previous world record for an auction of jewellery was for the Duchess of Windsor’s collection sold in Geneva in 1987 making $50,281,887. Last night’s auction totalled $115,932,000 (£74,196,480).
 

 

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