|Francois Curiel Leads the auction Wednesday.|
NEW YORK - Nothing could have topped Tuesday night’s $115.9 million jewelry auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s Legendary Jewelry and no one expected that to happen. However, the second and final day of the jewelry sale, held Wednesday at Christie’s New York fetched another exceptional result: $21.3 million.
The two days of marathon auctions achieved the combined total of more than $137.2 million, making it “not only the most valuable private collection of jewelry ever offered at auction, but also the most valuable sale of jewelry in auction history,” the auction house said Wednesday.
Again, 100 percent of the lots were sold during the eight-hour sale and no more than one item sold for its auction estimate. Sales 10 times the high estimate was the norm. Two items sold for more than $1 million. They are:
An antique garland-designed necklace with suspended natural and rose cut diamonds sold for nearly $1.5 million and was the top lot of the daylong session. The high estimate was $150,000.
The other was the most anticipated piece, the Burton wedding bands. Two eternity bands, the first designed as a baguette-cut diamond eternity band, mounted in gold; the second designed as a circular-cut and single-cut diamond octagonal-shaped eternity band, mounted in white gold. The pair sold for just over $1 million after 15 minutes of intense bidding. The high estimate was $8,000.
“It took eight hours and three auctioneers to sell 190 more jewels from Elizabeth Taylor’s storied collection,” said François Curiel, international director of jewelry at Christie’s. “The atmosphere was electric from the very first to the last lot, with collectors from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and America chasing each individual jewel with a tenacity never seen before.”
Wednesday’s event at Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters was more casual than the intense black tie affair Tuesday night, but it had plenty of moments of intense bidding, dramatic pauses and even moments of humor. Like the previous auction estimates were treated as something one needn’t be bothered with.
Online bidders were strongly involved in many items and there were many other bidders on the phone from around the world. Curiel said the spectacular results of the prior night’s sale led to more international interest. Circular cut amethyst with turquoise ear clips led to a battle among three online bidders before selling for $52,500. New Zealand’s name came up during several bids.
Jewelry from the House of Taylor did very well with three lots selling for more than $200,000. Taylor licensed her to the company, which produced fine jewelry at several price points. Rge short-lived company had a spectacular rise and sudden fall in 2008 during the beginnings of the economic recession.
Pieces from many of the luxury jewelry brands associated with Taylor for years (Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Bulgari and others) had another exceptional day.
Bidders whom I spoke with were awestruck by the selling prices over the two days. But they were smiling, knowing that they were part of a once in a lifetime event. Los Angeles-based jewelry designer, Lorraine Schwartz, a friend of Taylor who designed some of her jewelry, tried to buy back one of the pieces. She lost.
“I was thinking like the dealer that I am,” she said. “I just couldn’t bring myself to go higher.”
One of the more unusual lots was a suite of paper jewelry that Forbes founder, Malcolm Forbes, gave to Taylor as a gag gift. It sold for $6,875. Its estimate was $200 to $300. How do you explain this?
The longest and most intense bidding was for the Burton wedding rings, the last lot of the two-day sale. There was several moments of extended silence as Rahul Kadakia, head of Christie’s jewelry department in the Americas, extended the bidding as the price moved up in tiny increments.
When the gavel finally sounded, the audience let out a breath and applauded.