Elizabeth Taylor: The Auction Of A Lifetime
Published: May 6, 2012
Elizabeth Taylor: The Auction Of A Lifetime, Elizabeth Taylorâ€™s public life was glamorous, star-studded, dotted with ill-judged interludes and very long. Spookily, all the same things were true of last nightâ€™s Channel 4 documentary about the posthumous sale of her jewellery, Elizabeth Taylor: Auction of a Lifetime.
As well as filming the auction itself, which saw 268 lots being sold over two consecutive days, the programme-makers set up â€“ if youâ€™ll pardon the pun â€“ cameos about Taylorâ€™s life, each relating to a different one of her jewels. It was a clever and fertile idea: after all, Taylorâ€™s jewellery habit makes shoe fetishist Imelda Marcos look like Zola Budd. Christieâ€™s eventual sale of Taylorâ€™s treasures (in December last year, after her death earlier in 2011) grossed over $135?million. It was, by far, the biggest ever auction of one individualâ€™s jewellery. The catalogue alone retailed at $300. And when the film stuck to the jewels, it too was a gem.
It told how, for example, in the late Fifties, third husband Mike Todd took a gaudy pair of costume earrings and, in secret, had a jeweller remake them with real diamonds. Taylor only realised when she put the switched pair on to go to a party, and found them to be hanging differently. Ruth Peltason, who helped Taylor write Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry, recalled how Taylor ended the story of that night. â€śI had to thank him,â€ť Taylor had said. â€śNeedless to say, we were late for the party.â€ť
The auctioneers estimated the market value of the Mike Todd earrings at $25,000 â€“ but they went for $310,000. Indeed, in coming up with their price estimates, it seemed that Christieâ€™s had used much the same technique as the London Olympics organisers once did in guessing at their security budget. They thought Taylor and Richard Burtonâ€™s wedding bands would bring in $6,000. Predictably, they fetched $850,000. (Telegraph)
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