Elizabeth Taylor: The Auction Of A Lifetime
Elizabeth Taylor: The Auction Of A Lifetime, Elizabeth Taylor’s public life was glamorous, star-studded, dotted with ill-judged interludes and very long. Spookily, all the same things were true of last night’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 – if you’ll pardon the pun – cameos about Taylor’s life, each relating to a different one of her jewels. It was a clever and fertile idea: after all, Taylor’s jewellery habit makes shoe fetishist Imelda Marcos look like Zola Budd. Christie’s eventual sale of Taylor’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 individual’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. “I had to thank him,” Taylor had said. “Needless to say, we were late for the party.”
The auctioneers estimated the market value of the Mike Todd earrings at $25,000 – but they went for $310,000. Indeed, in coming up with their price estimates, it seemed that Christie’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 Burton’s wedding bands would bring in $6,000. Predictably, they fetched $850,000. (Telegraph)