Elizabeth Taylor Auction Breaks Record At $116M

Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry collection fetched a record-setting $115 million — including more than $11.8 million for a pearl necklace and more than $8.8 million for a diamond ring given to her by Richard Burton — at an auction of gems and other memorabilia amassed by the late actress.

Christie's sale of 80 items had been estimated to raise about $20m (£13m), but took more than double the record for a single collection. The highlight was a necklace featuring a 16th Century pearl which sold for $11.8m (£7.6m), a record for the gem. The actress' famous 33.19-carat diamond ring, given to her by Richard Burton, also sold for $8.8m (£5.7m). 

Burton, who married Taylor twice, had bought the pearl in 1969 at auction for $37,000, and Taylor, who died in March at age 79, commissioned Cartier to design a ruby-and-diamond necklace mount. It had been estimated to sell for $2 million to $3 million.

The ring, estimated to sell for $2.5 million to $3.5 million, was included in a collection of Taylor's necklaces, earrings, pendants and rings and other gems that went on sale Tuesday night at Christie's in New York. Other highlights included the Taj Mahal diamond, another gift from Burton marking Dame Elizabeth's 40th birthday, which sold for $8.8m (£5.7m), a record for an Indian jewel.

The four-hour sale broke the record for a single-owner jewelry collection before the halfway mark. The previous record was set in 1987, when the Duchess of Windsor's jewels sold for just over $50 million. A total six world records for jewellery at auction were broken, including that for pearl jewellery, price per carat of a D colour diamond and for the price achieved for Indian jewellery. Only two items are said to have sold within their estimates.

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