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Diamonds are Forever

Culture Watch

She was known as much for her storied jewelry collection as she was for her screen siren status. Elizabeth Taylor was a larger than life force in Hollywood and later in her charitable efforts, particularly for establishing amfAR in 1985 and her namesake AIDS foundation in 1991.

Her epic collection—estimated in value at $150 million—will be auctioned by Christie’s at a date that’s still to be confirmed. Amongst the prized possessions is a crystal and diamond lily of the valley brooch from her Cleopatra co-star Rex Harrison, a 29-carat diamond ring from Taylor’s third husband, Michael Todd, the 33-carat Krupp diamond and a 50-carat, pear-shaped La Peregrina Pearl, all gifts from her fifth husband, Richard Burton.

But while there will be plenty of sparklers shining at this auction, perhaps her most famed diamond, the 69-carat Taylor-Burton, will not be part of the lot. The diamond, which was originally cut by Harry Winston, was purchased at auction by Robert Kenmore, the owner of Cartier, in 1969. After the losing the bidding war with Kenmore, Burton bought the diamond directly from Cartier for a sum said to be significantly higher than the $1 million Kenmore had just paid for at auction. Following her divorce from Burton, Taylor auctioned the diamond in 1978 for $5,000,000, the proceeds of which were used to build a hospital in Botswana.

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