The Elizabeth Taylor jewelry auction at Christie’s followed up its historic first night with an equally impressive conclusion—so that it now ranks as not only the most valuable private collection of jewelry ever offered at auction, but also the most valuable jewelry sale in auction history.
The second day sale on Dec. 14 fetched $21.3 million, adding to the previous night’s total of $115.9 million, for a grand total of $137,235,675.
Highlights of the sale’s second day included 15 minutes of furious bidding for the Burton wedding bands. Given to Taylor by Richard Burton on their marriages in 1964 and 1975, the bands were estimated to fetch $6,000–8,000. The final price was $1,022,500.
In addition, an antique natural pearl and diamond necklace circa 1860 that Burton gave to Taylor in 1968 sold for $1.48 million.
François Curiel, Christie’s international head of jewels, said that the auction was 100 percent sold, with every jewel exceeding its estimate—sometimes by as much as a hundred times.
“It took eight hours and three auctioneers to sell 190 more jewels from Elizabeth Taylor’s storied collection,” Curiel said in a statement. “The atmosphere was electric from the very first to the last lot.”
Buyers for the pieces reportedly included reality show star Kim Kardashian, who spent $65,000 for three Lorraine Schwartz jade and diamond bracelets that used to belong to Taylor.
Lorraine Schwartz jade and diamond bracelets
The New York Post also reported that noted jeweler Bulgari spent $20 million to buy back some pieces it once designed.
Even an independent jeweler got in on the action.
Jenny Caro, owner of Jewelry by Design in Woodbridge, Va., tells JCK she spent $5,000 on a piece of “paper jewelry”—actually, a picture of a piece of jewelry given to Taylor by Malcolm Forbes. She plans to display it in her store. (See picture.)
“$5,000—that’s a month of cable advertising,” she says. “And think of the publicity we will get from this. I will be interviewed by the local news when I get home. That’s free publicity—right before Christmas.”
Caro says the excitement about the auction stemmed from the sheer size of the collection.
“[Taylor] was such a supporter of what it means to love jewelry,” she says. “Her entire collection could have filled my store. She was a consummate collector—the kind of customer we would love to have. And she had great taste.”
For more on Caro’s auction journey, read Paul Holewa’s exclusive report in next week’s Retail Details.