An auction of all of Elizabeth Taylor’s clothing, art, personal movie memorabilia, and most importantly, her jewelry, appropriately titled “The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, is going on at Christie’s through December 16th. A corresponding exhibition is up through the 12th. You can also buy several forms of catalogues to help guide you through the exhibition (Christie’s is really milking this one). The insanely ornate display features famous items such as Dame Elizabeth’s various wedding dresses, the rubies Mike Todd gave her for swimming, and the 33-karat Taylor-Burton diamond. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation. The jewelry alone is valued at $150 million. Talk about the tippity-top of the 1%.
Runnin’ Scared went to the exhibit portion of the “The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor” this Sunday. The line, even for the those with tickets, snaked around Rockefeller Plaza. People (mostly women) arrived up to two hours in advance of their viewing times. The outside of Christie’s was plastered with photos of Taylor and her eyeball mutation.
Once inside, there are rooms and rooms devoted to Taylor’s belongings. You see mod Liz, with Paco Rabanne shifts and daisy eyelet shorts, hippie Liz, with the tie-dyed dress she wore to marry Richard Burton the second time around in Botswana, and lots of old-lady caftan Liz.
The exhibit was packed, and the often the only way to see something big, such as the Taylor-Burton diamond, was to wait in line (or use one’s height to sneakily peer over it, as Runnin’ Scared did). Fans ran around quoting lines from Furious Love and debating how much each item would go for. When standing next to diamonds that Taylor’s fourth husband Eddie Fisher gave her, a woman cackled, “I’d like to get something so nice for ruining a marriage!”
Taylor had an impressive art collection, including a Van Gogh and a Degas, as well as a ton of furniture, including some pretty heinous vases. The film memorabilia, including directors chairs from her various movies and costumes from X,Y, and Zee and A Little Night Music, features her three Oscars, which movie buffs and out-of-work actors were eager to crowd around.
The jewelry was wild. Elizabeth Taylor possessed one of the largest jewelry collections in the world, and several of the pieces are worth twice the GDP of a developing nation. Anything smaller than a baby’s fist seems to have been considered a casual gift, such as diamond rings casually given to Taylor from Richard Burton for winning a game of ping-pong.
If you choose to be inspired by celebrity bidders like David Beckham and Kimora Lee Simmons, you can join the online auction, or attend a sale from December 13-16.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 6, 2011