The auction of the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s jewellery at Christie’s, New York, raised a staggering $115 million (£75 million) this week, the proceeds of which will go towards her charitable foundations. The jewels put on a dazzling show at Christie’s, giving us mere mortals a chance to walk around the collection, and imagine ourselves living the late film star’s life.
While the collection as a whole is almost disorienting in its splendour, one piece in particular beckoned me with its siren’s call: La Peregrina. From its discovery by an African slave diving off the coast of Panama in 1550, the wandering pearl has had many owners, and most of them royalty. The large pearl has been depicted in art for centuries, not least around the neck of one of our old Queens, Mary Tudor.
The 16th century royal pearl, which is truly regal in size and shape, was set in a Cartier diamond necklace and given to Liz Taylor by Richard Burton in 1969. When she received her gift at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, she immediately put it on and danced around the suite, only to find to her horror that the magnificent pearl had suddenly gone missing… and that her dog was chewing on it quietly in the corner. Luckily, the titanic pearl survived unscathed.
La Peregrina sold for a record-breaking $11.8m (£7.6m), and I hope it is waiting for me under the Christmas tree.
P.S. Many thanks to Ms Louise Hodgson for sending me the news report on the auction 🙂