Elizabeth Taylor Auctions
Total Over $150 Million

WarholLizWhile the first of Christie's Elizabeth Taylor Auctions got the lion's share of the attention what with its world famous jewels and breathtaking prices, the combined sum of the rest of the sales added about $40 million to the grand total of the sales —nothing to sneeze at.

For those of you with a morbid fascination for what the belongings of a deceased star of the silver screen were worth (and we include The Shophound in that category), here's how it all broke town

Grand total: $155,170,124.

Only one item we are aware of, the yellow chiffon dress she wore at her first wedding to Richard Burton, was pulled at the last minute. The other famous item not included in the auction was perhaps her largest diamond, the 69 carat pear-shaped Taylor-Burton Diamond. She sold it in 1978 after her second divorce from Burton for what now seems like a paltry $5 million which was used to build a hospital in Botswana. The online auction, whose staggering 974 lots included selections from every category, turned in the largest total for a non-jewelry sale among all the auctions. This grand total, however, is not entirely complete as it doesn't include her collection of fine paintings including well known works from Frans Hals, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and most famously Vincent Van Gogh among others. Those items will be included in major painting auctions scheduled for early next year, and are sure to add several more millions to the haul, an unspecified portion of which will benefit the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.


Elizabeth Taylor Auctions
Set More Records

Andy_warhol_liz_d5502694hThe second and third installments of Elizabeth Taylor's Grand Estate Auction took place last night at Christie's including the rest of her jewelry and the first part of her clothing collection. For some reason, a personally signed lithograph of Andy Warhol's famous "Liz" image was included in the clothing sale, and got a great deal of attention going for $662,500. The rest of her jewelry added about $21 million to her gem haul for a record busting $137.2 million of jewelry sold in total. The second night's items were less significant pieces, though they still went for many times their estimates including a non-precious costume brooch that was given by Taylor to her mother on Mother's Day and included a personal note. estimated at $1,000 to $,2000, it went for $74,500. Generally, bidding reportedly did not reach the previous night's frenzy. Most items still went for more than $50,000, with many hitting six-figure prices, and a few cracked the million dollar mark including an antique natural pearl and diamond necklace and the wedding bands given by Richard Burton for both of their marriages, sold as a set of two.

Proving that there is no event that cannot be tainted by the presence of a Kardashian, a set of three diamond and jade bangles by Lorraine Schwartz were purchased by Kim Kardashian for $64,900 after an estimate of $6,000 to $9,000.

As for Taylor's best couture, it set a record for a clothing sale at $2.8 million. Standouts included a silver enctusted evening gown with a matching purse by Marc Bohan for Christian Dior from 1968 that garnered $362,500 and an embroidered Chanel ballgown and cape with matching shoes and bag from the 1960s that sold for $134,500. A 1992 beaded Versace bolero featuring portraits of Taylor went for $128,500. It is almost unheard of for Haute Couture, even from such illustrious labels, to sell for six figure sums. Her first Burton wedding gown designed by Irene Sharaff was removed from the auction at the last minute to be donated to charity, but her second designed by Gina Fratini sold for $62,500 as did a costume by Sharaff for Cleopatra.

Tonight will see the rest of her clothes and accessories hit the block including lots of Hermès and Chanel bags and a set of vintage Louis Vuitton luggage that should certainly attract interest. The Memorabilia sale, a grand finale of sorts will be held on Friday. Save your pennies.

Liz Taylor’s ‘Cleopatra’ Robe, Wedding Gown Set Fashion Record (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
The Collections of Elizabeth Taylor Auctions
run through Friday, December 16th at Christie's

Shiny Things: Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels Set Records And There's More To Come


Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels Set Records
And There's More To Come

LaPeregrinaLast night, the first auction of Elizabeth Taylor's estate at Christie's surprised nobody by setting a record for the largest auction of a private collection of jewels totalling a whopping $116 million. The previous record was held by The Duchess of Windsor's auction in 1987, and ironically, last night's auction included the Prince of Wales brooch which Taylor herself purchased. It went for $1,314,500, more than double a high estimate of $600,000. We don't yet know who purchased these items last night, and we may never unless some of them step forward to identify themselves.

Other standouts included some of the star's most famous jewelry pieces such as the La Peregrina necklace (at right), featuring a centuries-old natural drop shaped pearl that had been owned by kings. It went for $11,842,500, setting the record for a pearl jewel at auction. The bidding for this bauble took a scant four minutes, and it was the highest priced item at an auction of breathtakingly priced jewels. The huge, 33.19 carat flawless Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, also known at times as the Krupp Diamond, went for $8,818,500, more than doubling its high estimate, and proved that there is really no guessing what famous items owned by a superstar will go for at auction. An emerald and diamond necklace from Bulgari more than quadrupled its estimate at $6,130,500. A matching ring nearly increased its estimate tenfold going for $6,578,500. The bracelet nearly quadrupled at over $4 million, and on and on it went. Even items with relatively modest vlaues such as gold charm bracelets with almost no gemstones at all went for well over $100,000. Only a Vacheron Constantin diamond watch and an Art Deco multi-gem bracelet fell within their selling price estimates, and there was not a single item that was sold for under $100,000.

Of course, last night's auction was the Legendary Jewels that Taylor owned, only the first of five auctions of her possessions. Tonight will see the sale of her other jewels which could conceivably top her own record. Though last night offered the big, famous diamonds, tonight's sale features 190 lots, more than twice as many pieces whose values are sure to be inflated by their glamorous provenance.

Then there is also tonight's Haute Couture sale, and Thursday's auction of her other clothes and accessories which we are betting will set records for Hermès and Chanel handbags at auction. Finally on Friday, there's The Memorabila which should also bring prices that nobody can accurately predict. And on Saturday, The Online Auction will end.

We can expect the grand total of all the items to add several million more dollars including the artworks that will be sold at Christie's various painting auctions next year. The Van Gogh will easily go for a few million dollars by itself. At the very least, seeing how much money her possessions are auctioned off for will be as entertaining as some of her movies were (Maybe more. Did you ever see "These Old Broads?" Ugh.)

Elizabeth Taylor Diamonds Fetch Record Prices At Auction (Forbes)
The Collections of Elizabeth Taylor Auctions run through Friday, December 16th at Christie's
Maximum Luxury Overload: In Which We Are Gobsmacked By The Staggering Elizabeth Taylor Auction Exhibition At Christie's

After the jump, a video of the auction from the Associated Press

Continue reading "SHINY THINGS:

Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels Set Records
And There's More To Come
" »


In Which We Are Gobsmacked By The Staggering Elizabeth Taylor Auction Exhibition At Christie's

VersacemarylinsuitAnyone wearing Gianni Versace's 1991 suit printed with multiple images of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe with a few James Deans thrown in for good measure (pictured left), would be making a hefty pop culture fashion statement, but imagine if the person in the suit is Elizabeth Taylor, the only screen goddess who could rival Monroe, the only other one immortalized by Andy Warhol in the same way, and of the three in the picture, the only one to survive the middle of the 20th Century. The suit and the wearer then become some sort of pop culture meta-explosion. It's Monroe, the woman who told us that diamonds are a girl's best friend being saluted by Taylor, the best friend diamonds ever had, with a nod to Dean, another iconic friend who also died tragically young. If Andy Warhol hadn't died himself before that suit was ever designed, he might have keeled over at the sight of it on Elizabeth Taylor.

This all to say that the mammoth trove of the late star's possessions currently on display at Christie's could only have belonged to one person. From anyone else, it might seem like the wretched excess of someone hopelessly spoiled and self centered (and more than a few people might have described the star that way anyway) but somehow, it seems right that all this lavish, precious stuff should have belonged to Elizabeth Taylor. Basically, her life defied logic, and so does all her stuff.

TheaportercaftanThe show begins with her clothes, as one large room packed full of couture ensembles gives way to another even larger one. If Taylor liked something, she often bought it in multiples, and if she liked a designer, she would patronize the house passionately especially if they would make things for her in yellow or with flowers or, even better, both. There are decades of Valentinos to be seen including one gown in pink and purple that gets duplicated in reverse proportions of purple and pink. She faithfully patronized Dior from the days of Marc Bohan in the '60s and '70s to Gianfranco Ferré in the '90 straight through to Galliano. There is the obligatory tower of Vuitton luggage. She loved caftans, and hers were no mere poolside cover-ups, but sumptuously designed robes, many by all but forgotten '60s London designer Thea Porter (above right). MichaelevollbrachtAnother designer who gets an unexpected amount of attention is Michael Vollbracht (at left) whom Taylor enthusiastically patronized in the '80s, before he became the sedate designer for Bill Blass, and when his first name had an extra "E" on the end. His dramatic, handpainted and embroidered designs get a spotlight among the Muglers, Valentinos and Chanels. Surprisingly, there are only a few choice Halston pieces, but it seems hard to complain among the abundance of couture from nearly every designer you could name from the second half of the 20th Century.  Before we left the fashion section, we gazed into a smaller room arranged like a closet piled high with handbags and shoes including five different Hermès Kelly bags and well over 20 Chanels.

Even though, especially during her most scandalous moments, Taylor was sometimes criticized for being flashy or vulgar, she chose well from all those designers, selecting some of the most iconic looks particularly from Versace and Valentino. Or perhaps it was she who made them iconic. Hard to say, but even from less celebrated designers like Vollbracht, she picked some of his most dramatic, signature items, pieces that someone with less personal magnetism might have had trouble carrying off. Of course, everything appears to be in pristine condition, as it is hard to imagine that she would have physically had time to use or wear any of these things more than a few times.

Next, it's a detour into her important paintings, which will be auctioned separately, including a well-known Van Gogh, a lovely Pissarro, a Degas self-portrait and a fine Frans Hals among others. Not everything in this room is a gem. Among the Gallé, Daum and Lalique glass and crystal pieces are number of glitzy Jay Strongwater picture frames which seem a bit out of their league.

Already slack-jawed, we descended the stairs into the memorabilia section including her three Oscars, costumes saved from her film hits ("Cleopatra") or more likely her flops ("Boom", "X, Y and Zee", and did anyone even remember that there is a film version of Sondheim's "A Little Night Music"?). There are bound screenplays, personalized leather director's chairs (which, apparently, were a thing) and vintage posters made priceless by her personalized messages. There are notes from Presidents and other stars. Perhaps the most poignant piece is her personal copy of "National Velvet" by Enid Bagnold displayed next to a children's book, "Nibbles and Me" purportedly written and illustrated by the young Taylor herself with, we have a sneaking suspicion, some assistance from the MGM publicity department.

LaperegrinaThen, finally, it's on to the jewels, the immense volume of which must be seen to be believed. We knew she had a lot of incredible jewels, but who knew she had this many? All of the famous ones are there, the enormous flawless ring, the La Peregrina necklace (left), the Prince of Wales Diamond Brooch she purchased from the estate of the Duchess of Windsor, the Burton Diamond Brooch and the antique tiara from Mike Todd. Clearly, Richard Burton gave the best diamonds, but Todd was no slouch either. By the time she made it through Eddie Fisher, it was clear that Elizabeth Taylor would have to start satisfying her taste for shiny things herself, and so she did, with zeal. The vast majority of the pieces shown seem to have been purchased by Talyor for herself from nearly every celebrated jeweler in the world with Bulgari, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels featured prominently, and then eventually from her own ill-fated jewelry brand, House of Taylor. Imagine waking up in the morning and deciding to wear emeralds that day requiring a choice among 20 or 30 different major necklaces, bracelets rings and earrings. Then, tomorrow, rubies, perhaps sapphires the day after that. There are literally hundreds of jewels on display from classic styles to a Monkeynecklaceparticularly eccentric necklace created from diamond encrusted monkeys and bananas with matching ear pendants (at right) —one of a few gifts from Michael Jackson on display that are sure to get special attention. There are so many major pieces of jewelry, that after seeing them, the windows of Manhattans most celebrated jewelers start to seem a little meager in comparison.

By the end of end of the exhibition, which seems to take up every square foot of Christie's showroom space, you wouldn't be faulted for being genuinely overwhelmed. Maybe it's because she became so philanthropic in her later years that the stunning volume of her possessions doesn't make her seem like a high-class hoarder. She seemed far too savvy not to have realized at some point that everything she owned would become imbued with some extra, intrinsic value that could benefit someone else after she was gone, especially since battling an endless string of potentially deadly maladies has long been a part of her legend. Even a portion of the $30 admission fee goes to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

That fee may seem steep just to gawk at the remaining possessions of a screen goddess, but there is a sense wandering from room to room that one will not see a collection of clothes, jewels or memorabilia on this scale again. It's not that Taylor was the last survivor of her era. There are still other Silver Screen icons like Lauren Bacall and, yes, Debbie Reynolds still among us, but it's hard to imagine anyone other than Saudi royalty prodigiously amassing so much stuff —and it looks like she kept everything. In the end, it adds another final dimension to Elizabeth Taylor's mesmerizing story.

The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor on display at Christie's through December 12th to be auctioned on December 13th - 17th.


A Screen Goddess's Jewels Meet
A Pedigreed Flea

Since you should be getting your Holiday shopping started this weekend, there are two wildly different events happening that you won't want to miss. We can't guarantee that you will find any gifts, but at the very least, they should be extremely entertaining, and worth braving the crowds.

Final-PUF-outlinesFirst, there's the long awaited return of The Pop-Up Flea, the annual showcase of artisanal and heritage menswear brands from A Continuous Lean's Michael Williams and UrbanDaddy's Randy Goldberg. It's a little later this year, and has moved north to NoHo at 159 Bleecker Street for one weekend only. We don't have an official line-up, though we are fairly sure that Shophound fave L.L.Bean Signature will have another display, making it the rare opportunity to shop this line in person in NYC. They and other participants often bring exclusive items just for the event that are unavailable anywhere else. Other labels that have appeared in the past have included Gitman Vintage, Alexander Olch, Billykirk, Gant Rugger, Schott and Riviera Club among others. If you know someone who is mad for classic American brands (and if you are at all hipsterish or even slightly hipster-adjacent, then you definitely do) pull on your Red Wings or your Wolverine 1000 Mile boots and get over there.It opens this afternoon at 3 PM with afternoon drinks, so get off work early.

PopupfleaRosterClick on the little image at right for a current roster of the Pop-Up Flea participants this season. There are a lot of the familiar booths with some familiar items, but newcomers include former J.Crew designer Todd Snyder's debut collection. Standouts to us included Isaora's striking garment-dyed down filled hoodies and Rancourt & Co.'s American made-boots and handsewn loafers. L.L.Bean Signature has shelves and shelves of their deluxe Bean Boots with canvas and Horween Chromexcel uppers which will likely go fast.

LiztaylorIf your tastes run more toward the luxurious and opulent, then you may have heard that Christie's is opening it's exhibition of items belonging to Elizabeth Taylor this Saturday. The display runs through December 12th, and can be seen only by purchasing a time-specific ticket. We don't think we can overestimate the interest in this auction. Aside from the mind-boggling jewels (which are worth going out of your way to see by themselves), Taylor had amassed an incredible collection of Couture clothing from the world's most coveted labels over decades as well as some of her film costumes. Then there are other objects like Vuitton luggage, costume jewelry and all kinds of memorabilia that will be sold in a series of five separate auctions over four days. This is as big as this kind of thing gets. You know, like when a toothbrush sells for five figures. She was an extraordinary star with extraordinary stuff, and we wouldn't miss seeing it. If you can't make it this weekend, the exhibition will be up until December 12th, after which the auctions will start. Somebody, somewhere will be getting some incredible jewelry for Christmas this year.

The Pop-Up Flea 159 Bleecker Street at Thompson Street through Sunday December 4th, NoHo
The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor at Christie's 20 Rockefeller Plaza on 49th Street, Midtown

Today In Narcissism:

Creepiest Non-Auction Ever

Jacksonauction Our friends at Racked pointed us to comedian Paul Scheer's Flickr set of photos taken at the exhibition of Michael Jackson's possessions that were planned to be auctioned off next month at Julien's in Beverly Hills.. The auction has been canceled, but the exhibit continues, and it gives us a creepy glimpse of what life was like at the Neverland Ranch.
Is there a verb form of Narcissism? If there is, then it looks like that's pretty much what MJ did all day long.
There are wax figures of the singer and also several of children, along with a disturbing number of paintings featuring the singer in various forms of regalia, even one where he's knighting himself. Then there are the ones depicting him alongside various fictional and cartoon characters, and the one pictured that puts him in the company of the Mona Lisa, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Albert Einstein and E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, all in matching aviator shades. The centerpiece is a huge painting that shows Jackson leading a throng of kids of all ages like a Pied Piper, which Scheer has documented in detail.
It is truly the heights and depths of navel-gazing, even by Hollywood standards. None of these 49 photos are to be missed.
Michael Jackson Auction: My Favorite Items (Paul Scheer/Flickr via RACKED)
Previously, Celebrity Freakshow Averted: Michael Jackson Auction Canceled

Celebrity Freakshow Averted:

Michael Jackson Auction Canceled

MJauction You could argue that most of Michael Jackson's life has been a celebrity freakshow, but the eccentric singer has managed to reach a settlement that will return the former contents of Neverland Ranch back to his personal possession. They were to have been auctioned off by Julien's later this month, and an exhibition of the items opened on Tuesday in Beverly Hills running through the April 25th. The exhibition will continue, and included items like the singer's iconic crystal studded gloves, quasi-military outfits and many paintings and sculptures depicting himself as well as juvenile fanboy memorabilia like life-sized superhero and Star Wars character figures. The folks at Luxist have an amusing slideshow of the display. According to Julien's, who had spent an estimated $2 million preparing for the sale, arrangements are being made for some sort of permanent exhibit of the items.
Sadly, we may have to wait until the singer's next financial crisis (which, given his track record, can't be too far off) for our chance to bid thousands of dollars for a piece of Jackson's bizarre legacy, but that's something worth waiting for, no?
Michael Jackson Auction Canceled (Luxist)
Michael Jackson auction canceled, exhibit continues (Reuters)
The Collection of Michael Jackson (Julien's Auctions)

Cher Cleans House, One Of Them Anyway

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Indestructible celebrity and all-purpose icon Cher is cleaning her Malibu house in preparations for a redo, and planning an auction of about 700 pieces ranging from cars to some of those unforgettable Bob Mackie costumes. We don't yet know what the auction will include, but it may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to score a sparkly gown from TV, some now vintage Chrome Hearts chains, maybe a Laverne costume, or possibly some old cartons of Lori Davis hair products. Unfortunately, the sale, handled jointly by Sotheby's and Julien's will be held in Los Angeles, but there will be a not-to-be-missed New York exhibition from September 16th to the 21st. It is expected to raise around $1 million, and while some of the proceeds will go to charity, the rest will go to...Cher. Why not? It's her old stuff, and somebody's got to pay for all the new stuff.