Saturday, December 3, 2011
Elizabeth Taylor Collection at Christie's
Blinded by diamonds and emeralds. (Click on photos to enlarge)
I had the good fortune this week to attend a preview of the Elizabeth Taylor Collection of jewelry, haute couture, art and decorative art which will be auctioned at Christie's this month. The live auctions will be held Dec. 13-16 in New York and the art work will be sold in January and February in New York and London. The online auction is on now, Dec. 3 through the 17th, so go bid on a bauble. See all the details at Christies.com.
Before the great movie star and humanitarian died this past March, she had amassed an extraordinary jewelry collection which is explored at VanityFair.com in a very interesting slideshow by writer and editor Ruth Peltason who collaborated with the star on her book Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair With Jewelry. The Christie's exhibition wonderfully displays the astounding jewelry collection as well as the star's clothing and art. The exhibition is really great fun to see, and visitors can buy tickets online for $30; proceeds go to fund AIDS research and which Elizabeth famously supported even early on when it was a brave and lonely thing to do.
In the gallery I approached a set of ruby jewelry and I said to a woman at Christie's, "Is this the ruby jewelry that Mike Todd gave her?" And the woman said, "I don't know, there is so much ruby jewelry!" We found the Mike Todd suite together, below. When he, her third husband, gave Taylor this jewelry, she famously put it on and went swimming in the pool, so comfortable was she, at the age of twenty five, with this level of luxury.
The most famous piece of jewelry in the collection is this necklace featuring a large pear-shaped sixteenth century pearl that was once owned by the Spanish crown. It was a gift from Richard Burton, and Cartier fashioned it into a pearl and diamond necklace.
The piece above the large pearl is also a detachable brooch, which you can see from the side, so that Taylor could wear it separately. Clever.
Yellow diamonds piled on top of white diamonds – breathtaking.
Richard Burton gave Taylor this gold and diamond Schlumberger brooch when they were in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, when he was filming The Night of the Iguana. You might remember that we had a wonderful family trip to Puerto Vallarta, and on a boat ride, the captain pointed out the villa where the Burtons lived.
I thought one of the most magnificent sets was a diamond and emerald group from Bulgari in Rome. Burton gave Taylor this glorious diamond and emerald brooch as an engagement present. It was one of her favorite pieces.
Here she wears it as a tiara in the movie The VIPs, which also starred Burton. For a wedding present, he added the amazing emerald and diamond necklace at the top this post, emerald drop earrings, two rings and a bracelet.
Here, Taylor wears the brooch in her hair and the necklace. That necklace rivals anything the czars wore.
Also on exhibition here is a selection of noteworthy fashion. This is Taylor's sweet sunflower yellow wedding dress when she married Burton in 1964, husband number five.
And the wedding dress she wore when she married him again, in Africa in 1975.
Pretty pastel shades –
An ivory Christian Dior evening gown and a canary yellow wrap trimmed with feathers. Behind it are cases and cases of diamond jewelry.
Upstairs was a huge gallery lined on all sides by fashion. A woman walked by and said to no one in particular, "She must have kept building houses just for this."
Caftans! And estimated at only $600-$800 each. One potential shopper said to another, "I wish we could feel the fabric."
A collection of Louis Vuitton luggage, because really, everyone should travel like this.
There were even more rooms of her paintings including, yes, a Pissaro and a Van Gogh, and a gallery of decorative arts, furniture, and memorabilia including three golden Oscars.
But we close with the Elizabeth Taylor diamond, formerly known as the Krupp diamond. At a staggering 33.19 carats, it was a gift from Richard Burton, and she wore it every day of her life. Click on the photo to see it better.
What a woman. And what a life.