With the auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection over and done with at Christie’s, an era has come to a close. Grossing nearly $116 million, and setting records left and right, the collection could have filled several jewelry stores with only the finest specimens in the world. And that’s without factoring in the Liz quotient, that aura of unofficial royalty that graced most everything she touched. (A portion of profits will be donated to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation).
The collection evoked Taylor’s earlier years, before she became tabloid fodder for the wrong reasons. Many of the baubles were artifacts of her countless marriages and affairs, each of which seemed to pack more passion and drama than the lifetimes of a dozen ordinary folk. (Which is not to say that the ordinary folk aren’t just as happy, or happier.) There’s never been a star quite like her, nor will there ever be again, most likely, during this time when visiting Occupy Wherever, or lobbying against land mines, rank as admirable acts. A far cry from jetting to the Côte d’Azur, 20 carats around one wrist, to celebrate yet another honeymoon. Or hanging out with pal Michael Jackson, who gave her several pieces, a number of them monkey-themed. For the most part, her taste was extravagant, but many of the key pieces are tastefully designed to showcase magnificent gemstones, including the Krupp diamond and “La Peregrina,” a teardrop-shaped pearl.
Yup, conspicuous consumption is just plain tacky nowadays. (A tangent: Kim Kardashian purchased three jade bangles worn often by Taylor, an idol of KK’s. At least Taylor came by her fame through her honest acting talent, and seemed to actually marry for love, even if it was eventually fickle.) In addition to jewelry, the auction, through December 16, includes clothing, ranging from tasteful evening suits to eye-popping Versace blouses and kaleidoscopic caftans. Her art collection included acquisitions blending personal relevance and a blue-chip index. Several display cases worth of what can only be called “tchotchkes” actually brought La Liz down to earth—keepsakes that must have been primarily gifts, crystal and glass things, accessories related to daily vices, stuff like what we all eventually accumulate and have to figure out how to get rid of. Most likely it won’t be at Christie’s.