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Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels Bring Millions

Elizabeth Taylor's famed La Peregrina necklace sold for $11.8 million dollars. i i

hide captionElizabeth Taylor's famed La Peregrina necklace sold for $11.8 million dollars.

Mary Altaffer/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Elizabeth Taylor's famed La Peregrina necklace sold for $11.8 million dollars.

Elizabeth Taylor's famed La Peregrina necklace sold for $11.8 million dollars.

Mary Altaffer/ASSOCIATED PRESS

An auction of jewels belonging to the late actress Elizabeth Taylor fetched more than $115 million dollars in New York on Tuesday. The event, featuring about 80 of Taylor's gems, was handled by Christie's, which says the sale set a record for a single private collection.

The sale is far above what was expected: as NPR's Margot Adler reported, the auction was expected to net about $50 million.

The 'Elizabeth Taylor Diamond' is 33.19 carats. i i

hide captionThe 'Elizabeth Taylor Diamond' is 33.19 carats.

Akira Suemori/AP
The 'Elizabeth Taylor Diamond' is 33.19 carats.

The 'Elizabeth Taylor Diamond' is 33.19 carats.

Akira Suemori/AP

Among the items sold was the breathtaking diamond ring Taylor received from her husband, actor Richard Burton (whom she married twice). Rectangular in shape, the 33-carat ring was purchased by a buyer in Asia for more than $8.8 million dollars, according to AP.

The evening's tense moment came over 'La Peregrina', Taylor's 50.6-carat pearl, part of a ruby, diamond and pearl necklace set by Cartier. Burton picked it up as a Valentine's Day gift for Taylor more than 40 years ago, according to Bloomberg. Owned previously by eight Spanish kings from 1582 through 1808, it went for $37,000 in 1969.

Last night it sold for $11.8 million. Forbes says frenetic bidding closed after just four minutes. Would-be purchasers were in the Christie's throng, but hopeful buyers overseas also telephoned bids to dozens of Christie's staffers who wore evening wear while swamped with calls at phone banks.

Ward Landrigan, CEO of New York jeweler Verdura, was flabbergasted at the final sale prices, telling Bloomberg, "No one has seen anything like this. It's like money means nothing."

What recession?

There's more. The rest of Taylor's jewels are being auctioned online today, along with some of her art and fine clothing, including the yellow chiffon gown she wore to her first wedding Burton. Want to browse? Visit Christie's here. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

Update at 5:23 p.m. ET. A Slideshow:

Our friends in the multimedia department point us to a gallery they've made of Taylor's jewels:

  • This 1964 Andy Warhol lithograph entitled "Liz" is signed by the artist. It reads, "To Elizabeth with much love" in felt-tip pen.
    Hide caption
    This 1964 Andy Warhol lithograph entitled "Liz" is signed by the artist. It reads, "To Elizabeth with much love" in felt-tip pen.
    All photos courtesy Christie's
  • Known as "The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond," this 33.19-carat diamond was a gift from Richard Burton in May 1968. It's estimated to be worth between $2.5 and 3.5 million.
    Hide caption
    Known as "The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond," this 33.19-carat diamond was a gift from Richard Burton in May 1968. It's estimated to be worth between $2.5 and 3.5 million.
  • Burton also gave Taylor this charm bracelet, estimated to be worth between $25,000 and 35,000. Among the 20 charms is a locket that opens to reveal four medallions, each engraved with the names and birthdates of Taylor's four children.
    Hide caption
    Burton also gave Taylor this charm bracelet, estimated to be worth between $25,000 and 35,000. Among the 20 charms is a locket that opens to reveal four medallions, each engraved with the names and birthdates of Taylor's four children.
  • A beaded Versace evening jacket, so unique that it comes with a title: The Face.
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    A beaded Versace evening jacket, so unique that it comes with a title: The Face.
  • With an estimated value of $2 to $3 million, Taylor commissioned Cartier to design the mount for the famed pear-shaped pearl, La Peregrina. Another gift from Burton, the pearl was discovered in the 1500s and was once one of Spain's crown jewels.
    Hide caption
    With an estimated value of $2 to $3 million, Taylor commissioned Cartier to design the mount for the famed pear-shaped pearl, La Peregrina. Another gift from Burton, the pearl was discovered in the 1500s and was once one of Spain's crown jewels.
  • Taylor wore this chiffon dress, designed by Irene Sharaff, for her first wedding to Burton.
    Hide caption
    Taylor wore this chiffon dress, designed by Irene Sharaff, for her first wedding to Burton.
  • Burton gave Taylor this Bulgari brooch of emeralds and diamonds as an engagement gift. Taylor wore it with her yellow chiffon wedding dress.
    Hide caption
    Burton gave Taylor this Bulgari brooch of emeralds and diamonds as an engagement gift. Taylor wore it with her yellow chiffon wedding dress.
  • A Valentino evening bag made from satin, beads and feathers, thought to be worth around $500-700.
    Hide caption
    A Valentino evening bag made from satin, beads and feathers, thought to be worth around $500-700.
  • This tunic from the late 1970s is made out of linked metal disks and worth about $1,000.
    Hide caption
    This tunic from the late 1970s is made out of linked metal disks and worth about $1,000.
  • Burton gave Taylor this group of three diamond rings after she beat him in a game of ping-pong – hence their name, the "Ping Pong Diamonds."
    Hide caption
    Burton gave Taylor this group of three diamond rings after she beat him in a game of ping-pong – hence their name, the "Ping Pong Diamonds."
  • A velvet and satin Valentino ball gown with a matching satin evening bag.
    Hide caption
    A velvet and satin Valentino ball gown with a matching satin evening bag.

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View slideshow i

The gallery accompanied a story NPR's Margot Adler put together on the collection.

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