Elizabeth Taylor Collection of gems, gowns and art is unveiled at Christie’s in London today.
Elizabeth Taylor was renowned for her impeccable taste in jewellery, and over her lifetime amassed a dazzling collection worth a staggering $30 million (£20million). Many of the pieces were designed by Elizabeth Taylor herself in partnership with her favoured jewellery house, Cartier, and many bestowed upon her by her generous husbands.
After Elizabeth Taylor death in March 2011, at aged 79, the entire collection of 300 glorious pieces is to go on display at London auction house Christie’s, ahead of a sale of the hoard in New York this December.
Marc Porter, the chairman and president of Christie’s America said the sale promised to “captivate the auction world”. Marc Porter added: “This is without a doubt the greatest private collection of jewellery assembled in one place.”
Many of the Elizabeth Taylor’ stunning gems have great historic value.
One, La Pérégrina pearl, is widely considered to be one of the most important pearls in the world. The pear-shaped piece dates from the 16th century, and once belonged to King Phillip II of Spain, and later to his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret.
Elizabeth Taylor’s fifth husband Richard Burton won it in an auction and gave it to her as a gift, he worked with Cartier to have it hung on a diamond and ruby necklace.
The necklace will be unveiled today at Christie’s with dozens more of Elizabeth Taylor’s gems. Along with the impressive hoard of treasures amassed by the Hollywood legend will be lavish gowns and art by greats such as Van Gogh and Degas.
The total Elizabeth Collection, which is given an estimated total value of close to £100 million ($150 million) is going on display in the UK for the first time tomorrow in a three-day exhibition opening at Christie’s London.
The event, which is part of a three-month global tour, attracted 6,000 visitors when Elizabeth Taylor Collection was previewed in Moscow earlier this month. The collection is being unveiled in the run-up to a much-anticipated December auction held in New York, where all the pieces will be sold.
Fans of Elizabeth Taylor will have the opportunity to view the vast array of items taken from her Bel Air estate.
Top pieces of her collection include the Elizabeth Taylor diamond, La Peregrina pearl once owned by England’s Queen Mary I, dresses from leading designers including Versace and Chanel and rare works of art by the likes of Van Gogh and Renoir.
A total of 269 pieces from her jewellery collection will be auctioned while 400 fashion items spanning over 50 years of Elizabeth Taylor’s life will also be sold off.
Highlights from Elizabeth Taylor’s art collection, include the 1889 Vincent Van Gogh painting Vue De L’Asile Et De La Chapelle De Saint-Remy, which is expected to fetch up to $11 million (£7 million) and a rare self-portrait by Edgar Degas, with a pre-sale estimate of $700,000 ( £450,000).
Fashion collectors will have the opportunity to purchase unique designs such as a Versace beaded evening jacket adorned with portraits of Elizabeth Taylor in some of her famous movie roles, estimated to sell for up to £13,000 ($20,000) and the sunflower yellow dress by Hollywood designer Irene Sharaff that Taylor wore to her 1964 wedding to Burton, boasting a pre-sale estimate of £26,000 to £39,000 ($40,000-60,000).
For lower priced items there will be an online auction featuring moderately valued pieces with registration and bidding starting on December 3.
After London the Elizabeth Taylor Collection tour will move to Los Angeles, Dubai, Geneva, Paris, Hong Kong before finally closing at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York.
The UK exhibition, which runs until Monday at the auctioneers on King Street, opens today and in keeping with elizabeth Taylor’s humanitarian work, a portion of the £10 admission price will go to the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, founded in 1991.
Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, said: “This is without a doubt the greatest private collection of jewellery ever assembled in one place, and Christie’s is honoured to have been entrusted with the global tour of the collection this fall, and the sale of the collection in its entirety this December.”
Elizabeth Taylor’s famous jewellery and fashion items will go under the hammer over a four-day sale in New York this December, while her art will be auctioned in London next February.