Elizabeth Taylor has impressed the world once again.
I had the rare chance to sit among the hundreds of people who were bidding on some of the most fabulous jewelry collection in the world, the late and great Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry at the Legendary Jewels Evening Sale.
The world hasn’t seen this amount of luxury (and money) together in one room in a long time. Maybe it was because of Liz, maybe it was because of the pieces sold and the love story behind each piece, or maybe it was just because Liz has the power to aggregate people. Her humanitarian work towards finding a cure for AIDS has brought worldwide attention and hundreds of millions of dollars to AIDS research.
The first night of a three-day sale organized by Christie’s was a night of total glamour. Out of all three days of auction, the first one was the hardest one to get in to. Not only because a lot of people wanted to be a part of this event, but also in order to qualify, the Christie's bid department needed all potential attendees to prove that they have some serious financial support. Don’t even ask me how I got in… let's just say luck, I guess!
Hundreds of people, mostly dressed up to the nines, sat for almost four hours, through 80 lots of Liz Taylor’s most famous, precious, and of course, most valuable pieces. And that is just a portion of her extensive collection.
The crowd was mixed, but very low profile. There were some traditional looking older couples, many younger couples, some “old money" couples, many “new money” couples, and of course, err, some huge “age gap” couples. And then there was me, in my finest suit, trying to fit in amongst the crowd.
I was actually very surprised by the way most women were dressed. They were not very ostentatious, but elegant and confident. Most of them had designer-logo-free attire--no gaudy, pedestrian displays of wealth here… not a lot of fur coats and the handbag of the night was definitely the one almost impossible to get: the alligator Hermes Birkin, another sign of money beyond labels.
The press was set up in the end of the room, which guaranteed a lot of privacy to the wealthy bidders. The room had two huge screens, one on each side, to show each item and the amount they were being sold for.
Of course it started a little later than 7PM, as the ticket indicated. But as anything in Elizabeth Taylor style, it started fashionably late. She was known for being late.
Christie’s showed a short clip of some of her movies and an exclusive private footage from 1987 of Liz at her home in Bel Air, California, bidding on the famous Prince of Wales brooch. (Over the phone, by her swimming pool. Can you be more glamorous than that?)
The most expensive pieces were sold through the phone because those bidders were in Europe or Asia. Just one bidder alone spent more than $16 million and got most of the famous emerald suite set, given to Liz by her "twice husband” actor Richard Burton.
There was also a surprise sale in the middle of the night. The number one printed and signed copy of Liz Taylor’s “My Love Affair With Jewelry” book was sold for $170,000. All the proceeds from this sale went to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
According to Christies, just that one night of sales reached the record of $115,932,000, an amount never reached before on a single evening of jewelry sales. The famous 33.19 karat diamond ring, known as the Krupp Diamond, now renamed the “Elizabeth Taylor Diamond,” was the last lot to be sold, and it was bought by some rich lady who could afford the bargain price of $8,818,500.
Elizabeth Taylor passed away in March of this year and left a legacy of fans, including myself, along with her huge humanitarian work.
As for me, I kept my ticket. The only thing I could possibly get from this auction.