It was Lot 136, A suite of paper imitation jewelry, which, as the name indicates, consisted of nothing more than paper cutouts of a necklace, earrings and a pair of ear clips. Yet that didn’t stop an ambitious buyer from plunking down $6,875 for the pieces. It fetched more than 20 times its highest estimate.
Yet that was not out of the ordinary for this extraordinary sale, which totaled $156.8 million in the end. That includes the online-only auction, a first for Christie’s, which ended up fetching $9.5 million.
Kadakia, one of two auctioneers at the helm of the sale, said some pieces drew 400 to 500 times their estimated price. The auction shattered 12 world records, including most valuable jewelry auction in history and most valuable private collection of jewels sold at auction.
Previously, the sale of the Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, which garnered an impressive $50.3 million in 1987, held the latter record. But even the fabled duchess couldn’t hold a candle to Taylor.
“She was truly a global icon,” Kadakia said. “You could go to any corner of the world and say her name. Everyone knew her.”
Pricing the pieces
Christie’s used a simple formula when pricing the jewelry in Taylor’s collection. Figure out of the market value of the materials included in the pieces, the gemstones and the metals, and then allow the market to decide how much they are willing to pay to own a piece that once occupied real estate in Taylor’s jewelry box.
But the emotional factor is not something that can be calculated prior to the auction, especially when dealing with a celebrity on the level of Taylor. She is world famous for her acting career, her two Oscars, much talked about eight marriages and for being one of the first celebrities to speak out on AIDS.
Pieces sold at first night include the La Peregrina and the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. The evening sale also featured the lot that would turn out to incite the most frenzied bidding of the entire auction-- Lot 56, the Taj Mahal Diamond, a heart-shaped Diamond on a Gold and Ruby chain by Cartier.
|Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor the Taj Mahal Diamond when she turned 40 in 1972. Photo courtesy: Christie's|
Kadakia said he counted five competing buyers in the room who were up against another three “very active” bidders on the telephone. The Diamond eventually sold for a total of $8.8 million after bidding started at $300,000.
It set a new world record for an Indian jewel sold at auction.
Sale of the Century
Michael O’Connor, jewelry style expert and celebrity stylist, said Taylor always portrayed herself as a huge jewelry lover. During her time it was common for men to gift large, impressive pieces of jewelry.
“As a result, her collection ended up being a major collection, and I think that hers is probably the last of what we’re going to see of that caliber,” he said.
Kadakia, who is only 37 years old, agrees that the Taylor sale was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“This was the sale of the century and the sale of my lifetime, and I’m still here at Christie’s for a while,” he said.
To know more about Liz Taylor's magnificent ornaments, their stories, the final price at which they were auctioned, check out our blogs:
- The Taj Mahal Diamond of Elizabeth Taylor set to be auctioned
- Liz Taylor's 33.19 carats Krupp Diamond Platinum Ring
- Largest Pear-shaped Pearl of the World: Taylor's 'La Peregrina' Pearl
- Elizabeth Taylor's Famous Diamond Tiara
- Elizabeth Taylor's 8.24carats Ruby Ring
- Taylor's Prince of Wales Brooch, the Royal Insignia
- Elizabeth Taylor's Bulgari Emerald Suite and its story
- Taylor's 52.72 carats Sapphire and Diamond Sautoir
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