December 12, 2011

December 12, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor Jewels on Auction at Christie's

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope you had a safe and great weekend. It was another busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

In a couple of days, the jewelry collection of Elizabeth Taylor will be on display at Christie's.

After going on display around the world, Elizabeth Taylor’s collection of jewelry and couture has finally landed at Christie’s in New York, where it will be on view at the auction house from December 3 to 16.

The range and quality of jewelry is staggering, from her 33-karat diamond ring to “La Peregrina,” a pearl that passed through the hands of Spanish and English royalty. Then there’s the diamond necklace from Michael Jackson. There’s the massive sapphire and diamond medallion necklace that Richard Burton presented to Taylor on her 40th birthday in 1972. And of course, the diamond brooch once owned by the Duchess of Windsor.

Taylor was one of the world’s foremost jewelry collectors and enthusiasts, but according to fashion designer Vicky Tiel — who became part of the Taylor-Burton entourage after falling in love with Burton’s make-up artist Ron Berkeley – looking after it as a different matter.

Tiel traveled throughout Europe with the famed couple as they shot movies and lived for months in luxury hotels, which she describes in her recent memoir “It’s All About the Dress.” “Elizabeth had a big, white leather bag that opened up. That was the jewel bag,” said Tiel. “And there was an identical bag and that was the pill bag. Once or twice, I’d end up with the jewel bag and be back at home in Normandy before I noticed.”

The bag would be returned during the next shoot, of course, but not before Tiel enjoyed walking around her French village buying groceries while dripping in diamonds.

Tiel was present for one of them most famous stories about Taylor’s jewels: the night she lost La Peregrina, the nearly two-inch pearl found in the 16th century. “We are in this tacky Las Vegas suite. The beds were all shaped like water beds, and the furniture was all hot pink and red,” said Tiel. “The carpet was thick, white shag.”

The pearl, which Burton had purchased at a Sotheby’s auction, had been delivered. Taylor, together with Tiel and Taylor’s hairdresser Claudye Bozzacchi, were having a night of champagne and dress-up with the jewel. But during the frolic, they noticed the pearl was gone: “We lost the pearl. We spent the entire night looking for it in the carpet. At some point, we passed out.”

It was still missing in the morning, but no one had the nerve to tell Burton. “He comes to down to make his coffee,” recalled Tiel. “And he handed her the pearl, saying ‘Look what I found in your dog’s mouth.’”

Tiel was also around to watch as jewelry selections were made – and gifts presented.

“Elizabeth didn’t shop. Jewelers would propose jewelry to her. They’d bring things to her bedroom,” said Tiel, who designed caftans so Taylor could elegantly and comfortably receive visitors in her boudoir.

According to Tiel, Taylor made the end-of-the-picture gift – from a director, to her – a regular practice. “There would always be wrap parties, but Elizabeth turned that into ‘What is the end-of-the-film present for me?’ For weeks before it ended, it would be all about ‘what jewel will he buy me?’”

Not all of Taylor’s jewelry was historic or important. She also had small items like a 14-karat gold safety pin and flashlight; such items area also on sale in the Christie’s online-only auction that starts Dec. 3 and has estimated lot prices starting from $100.

The exhibition her fine jewelry has been on tour around the world, drawing crowds of up to 10,000 viewers in Moscow and 8,000 in London, Paris and Los Angeles each. A portion of the sale of exhibition tickets and publications will go to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Auctions devoted to her jewelry, couture, accessories and memorabilia will be held in individual sessions from Dec. 13-16.

Many thanks to Dame Taylor for all she did for people with HIV and AIDS.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab