New York – The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: The Legendary Jewels Evening Sale achieved $115,932,000 (£74,196,480/€89,267,640), becoming the most valuable jewelry auction in history* and setting the tone for Christie's highly anticipated four-day series of landmark auctions devoted to the iconic collection of Elizabeth Taylor (13-16 December 2011). A tribute to the discerning eye of this celebrated film star, fashion icon, and humanitarian, the sale was 100% sold by lot and 100% by value, with 24 of the 80 jewels fetching over $1 million and 6 jewels over $5 million. 7 new world auction records were established: price per carat for a colorless diamond and for a ruby; a pair of natural pearl ear pendants; a pearl jewel; an Indian jewel and an emerald jewel.
The top lot of the sale was the legendary 16th century pearl La Peregrina which realized $11,842,500 (£7,579,200/ €9,118,725), setting two world auction records: for an historic pearl (against the previous record of $2.5 million set by La Regente at Christie's Geneva, 2005) and for a pearl jewel (surpassing the $7 million record paid for The Baroda Pearls at Christie's New York, 2007). A gift from Richard Burton in 1969 (having been bought for $37,000 at auction), this remarkable pearl of 203 grains in size is equivalent to 50 carats. Discovered in the 1500s in the Gulf of Panama, it became part of the crown jewels of Spain and ranks as one of the most important historic pearls in the world. Elizabeth Taylor designed the Ruby and Diamond Necklace with Al Durante of Cartier to offset what she called "the most perfect pearl in the world."
"Elizabeth Taylor's magnificent collection of jewels has captivated the auction world this fall, resulting in world-wide bidding and this first landmark result. Without a doubt the greatest private collection of jewelry ever assembled, this sale marked the powerful start of Christie's historic week of sales auctioning the Jewelry, Fashion, Accessories and Memorabilia from The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor between the 13 – 16 December, in tandem with the online-only sale (3 – 17 December)," said Marc Porter, Chairman and President of Christie's Americas.