Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor - The Christie's Auction Details

Now that you all have an idea about which of Elizabeth Taylor's jewels you are bidding on, here are some details.

First, it's Christie's that is holding the auction, not Sotheby's. Since they are the only two auction houses that really matter, and both auction important gems of the world, they seem to be interchangeable in terms of these important events.

In an attempt to cut 'em off at the pass, this October, Sotheby's in Hong Kong, will include in their Magnificent Jewels event, the auction of the 9.27 carat Fancy Vivid Pink Golconda diamond which carries a pre-auction estimate of $13 million - $19 million dollars.  The Golconda mine in India is known for producing many of the worlds most valuable stones, many of which were owned by the ancient emperors of India and Iran.  Since it no longer is mined, there are only a few of their legendary diamonds left in circulation.

This is one piece of jewelry Liz never owned.

Christie's started a world wide tour of Elizabeth Taylor's famous gems in Moscow on September 15th and September 16th, and it just arrived in London. For a taste of what's to come, view this link to see the opening: Liz in London. In October and November it continues through Los Angeles, Dubai, Geneva, Paris and Hong Kong. It finally arrives in New York on December 3 and remains on display through December 12 at the Christie's Gallery, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York. Tickets are required ($30 - available at the end of October)  and the catalogues are available in varying configurations at prices that range from $20 for the Souvenir Publication to $300 for the complete set. If you are really interested in the auction events, I suggest you set up an account at Christie's so you can get the details as they emerge.

This is not Elizabeth Taylor.

So choose the day you're going to New York and make sure to book your hotel now. What a fun time to be in New York City. The holiday decorations will be up and the stores will be stocked so you can get some serious shopping done. But don't forget to bring your museum armour so you can be ready to do serious battle because the big crowds in this type of exhibition bring out the worst in people. Be prepared to inhale other people's bad breath, B.O., and hair smell; navigate around the bloaty and farty people pushing you out of line while squirreling their way into your 6" personal space; and beware of the ubiquitous foreign tourists with camera equipment that would put a cinematographer to shame. Be comfortable with the fact you will never see these people again as you move in front of them or gently push them out of the line if they take too long to get their shot. Because you are there to see, for probably the only time in your life, a display of some of the most beautiful and important jewels you will ever see together in one place. It will be worth it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton-Can't Live With Him, Can't Live Without Him

I liked them best old, drunk and nasty.
We're all familiar with the tempestuous marriages of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton so I won't bore you with their legendary stories.  Sigh...we just don't hear those kinds of tales about today's celebrities. We're much more interested in news of recent plastic surgery, like Meg Ryan's jaw dropping corrective face's about time she noticed how weird she looked.  Or how scary skinny Kelly Ripa (who looks like she can't wait to throw up in the nearest toilet so she can get rid of that forkful of food she is allowing herself  just because she's being photographed) is.

Meg Ryan as the Joker on the left.  Today, post Joker surgery.

Gag...Ripa looks like a little boy but eats like an anorexic.

Taylor and Burton adored, hated, adored and hated each other. I believe they shared a unique passion for love and life, however, when you have sombrero sized egos, only one can fit in a room. Between both marriages, Burton bejeweled Taylor with some of the most important gems in the world...ever. There are so are the best of them.

The Grand Duchess Vladimir suite started off with the amazing emerald and diamond brooch Liz is wearing.  Burton and Taylor met in the early 60's on the set of Cleopatra. Their love affair caused so much gossip back then you would have thought they were filming porn.  As it was, Liz only showed a little cleavage in the movie. 
Burton built upon the Bulgari Grand Duchess Vladimir Suite in the early 60's when he added this magnificent Bulgari emerald and diamond necklace. Then, he went jewelry crazy.  The necklace pre-auction estimate: $1,000,000-$1,500,000; the pendant: $500,000-$700,000; the ring: $600,000-$800,000; and the earrings: $150,000-$200,000.

Burton said the only Italian word Liz new was "Bulgari".  I know a few curse words.

What happens to us?

Tiffany's, Jean Schlumberger, "Night of the Iguana" brooch, 1964.  Estimated pre-auction value $200,00-$300,000.

The Taylor-Burton Diamond, a 69.42 carat, D-IF, pear shaped stone, was purchased by Burton in 1967 from Cartier for $1.1 million.  The stone was quickly re-set into the more frequently seen cleavage necklace Liz dangled between her bubbies, because even Liz thought it was too big to wear as a ring.  In 1978, Taylor sold the stone for $3,000,000, two years after the end of her second marriage to Burton, in part to help fund a school in Botswanna (and is said to have later regretted selling it).  Today, the stone is reported to be in the hands of Lebanese diamond dealer, Robert Mouawad, who paid in the neighborhood of $5,000,000 for it and then had the stone re-cut to a more manageable 68.09 carats. This will not be in the Christie's auction.
The Krupp Diamond (now known as the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond), 33.19 carats, D- VS1, a gift from Burton in 1968 (purchase price then, $305,000).  Previously owned by Nazi sympathizer, Alfried Krupp, Taylor thought it funny a little Jewish girl like her wound up with the diamond.  She wore it almost every day of her life.  Estimated pre-auction value of $2,500,000-$3,500,000.

A close-up of "this old thang".
La Peregrina pearl.  Burton gave Taylor this historical bird's egg pearl in 1961.  It was once owned by Queen Mary I.  Extra necklace sparkly parts courtesy of Cartier.  Estimated pre-auction value of $2,000,000-$3,000,000.

The "Granny Suite".  Burton gave this Van Cleef and Arpels suite to Taylor in honor of her first grandchild at age 39, born in 1971.  Estimated pre-auction value of the necklace is $120,000-$180,000.

Van Cleef and Arpels "Granny" earrings.  Estimated pre-auction value of $25,000-$35,000.
The main component of the Bulgari sautoir is a 52.72 carat sugarloaf Burmese sapphire.  Burton gave this to Taylor in 1972 for her 40th birthday. 

Bulgari sapphire and diamond ring was added later.  Pre-auction value of $600,000.

The Taj Mahal diamond circa 1627.  This historically significant diamond was once owned by the man who built it.  Another outstanding gift given to Taylor by Burton for her 40th birthday in 1972.  Estimated pre-auction value of $300,000-$500,000

It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for those lucky enough to view Taylor's jewel collection while on tour this fall.  The proceeds of the sale, some of which will benefit the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, will leave a legacy for generations to come. Initial estimates of her collection are around $30,000,000 but experts believe it will be triple that, or more. I just can't believe her children, especially her daughters, are not lusting after at least one of the important gems in her collection - just to remember her by.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd - What A Guy!

If you can believe it, Kim Kardashian's engagement ring wasn't the biggest ever given.  Back in 1956, Mike Todd gave Elizabeth Taylor a 29.4 carat emerald cut diamond engagement ring, or as Liz referred to it, "my ice skating rink."

There's a lot of information out there that says Mike Todd may have been the love of Liz Taylor's life and it's said she continued to wear his wedding ring after his death.  Removed from the wreckage of the plane crash that killed him in 1958, Liz wore the twisted and charred ring on her right hand throughout her marriage to Eddie Fisher.   This did not bode well for their lasted less than five years. 

Mike Todd certainly seemed to be the man who started her love affair with jewelry.  After the engagement ring in 1956, the following year he gave Taylor this antique Cartier tiara which Liz wore often.  Today, valued at $60,000-$80,000,  it is among items included in the Christie's auction this December.
Taylor at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival looking queenly and stuff.

Taylor was wearing this tiara poolside when Todd gave her the ruby and diamond suite pictured below. 

Soon after the tiara, Todd gave her the infamous ruby and diamond Cartier necklace, earrings and bracelet suite.  According to reports, Liz was already wearing the tiara in the pool when he gave her the suite - that's one reason to never have to put your head in the water.  Also included in the upcoming Christie's auction, the suite is valued at $500,000-$600,000.

Taylor originally saw these earrings made in "paste" (not real) in a jewelry boutique on Place Vendome in Paris and loved them so much she purchased them even though they were not made with diamonds.  Some months later she went to put them on and noticed a difference.  They looked clean and bright - and were heavier than she remembered.  When she asked Todd about them, he replied that he had them remade...this time with real diamonds.  Mike Todd was rully, rully good at understanding the little things that make women happy.

Todd treated Taylor like a queen in the short time they had together.  In 1958, he was killed along with three others in a fiery plane crash in New Mexico.  Liz was almost on that plane but wound up staying home with a cold.  Identified through dental records, according to Eddie Fisher (one of Todd's best friends), all that remained were Todd's wedding ring and a pair of platinum cuff links Fisher had given him.

In a ghoulish aside, almost twenty years after Todd's death, his grave was desecrated by thieves looking for a diamond ring Taylor reportedly placed in his casket before his burial.  A bag with Todd's remains (bone and ash) was located under a nearby tree.  He was later reinterred in an undisclosed location.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where Do Chocolate Diamonds Come From?

Post-colonoscopy photo.  I wonder who had to...?
Chocolate diamonds are becoming very popular. Did you ever wonder how they were made? Well, for one, they come from Spain and this how it goes: Two women walk into a restaurant in a luxury resort in Spain. One puts her handbag on the floor, and they proceed to have dinner.

Soon, two men enter the room, one sits at the bar and the other at a table next to the women. The men leave and the woman soon discovers her handbag is missing and, along with it, 2000 euros, 400 pounds sterling, a mobile phone, a diamond pendant worth 12,000 euros ($16,500), plus some other insignificant fuzzballs from the bottom of her bag. Now girls, I know you are on vacation, but one can never let one's handbag out of one's sight, especially if one is carrying that kind of booty in it.

A few hours later four men were stopped at a checkpoint and police found the woman's handbag in the car. Everything was recovered except the diamond. The police saw one of the men put his hand to his mouth...hmmmm, they thought?  Did he just swallow that diamond? X-rays showed the stone in his stomach and, of course, police had to let nature take its course to recover the gem. And that's how chocolate diamonds are made.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Golden Eye Diamond - Auction Update

A quick departure from Elizabeth Taylor to bring you this update on The Golden Eye diamond auction results. This rare and exquisite stone was expected to bring anywhere from $3 million to $20 million dollars at auction, but I guess the economy is a little tough for everybody as the final price fell short of expectations. Selling for just $2.8 million dollars, the new owners of the Golden Eye are a semi-retired Ohio couple, Jerre and Donah Hentosh. Prepared to spend as much as $7 million dollars for the diamond, Mr. Hentosh placed an online bid for the diamond thinking he would never win. It was his first online purchase. Yeah...that's what happens when I put things in my fake shopping carts too, but it's usually a bra and a pair of panties in there.

Actually, Mr. Hentosh is a pretty smart business man. A very successful home builder, he and his wife opened Gold and Silver, Ltd. back in 1979 to carry them over when the construction business was hit hard by the recession. Mr. Hentosh knows that when times are tough, people tend to sell their personal property to make a little extra cash. According to him, "it's a good business to be in for a short time." The Hentosh's are not sure what they will do with the stone...keep it or sell it.  But for now, they've made the ultimate Internet purchase.

Bid4Assets, the online auction house that hosted the sale, started the bidding on September 6th. Bidding remained slow until the last day, September 8th. Sixteen bids were submitted in the last minutes of the auction, nine of which Mr. Hentosh claimed were his. Mr. Hentosh has learned the hard way that you must only click once at check out time.

Mr. Hentosh is on the left.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels

Who will carry the next jewelry torch? Is there someone out there who loves jewelry as much, or has amassed the level of important pieces, as Elizabeth Taylor? Wallis Simpson?  Even Joan Crawford had a respectable Agnes Moorehead-looking jewelry collection for god sake. Kim Kardashian may have a 20 carat diamond engagement ring, but she doesn't strike me as the type to have the insight that Liz and Dick had to acquire some of the most historically significant jewels of the world.  Madonna has purchased some pieces previously owned by Wallis Simpson, but jewelry looks better on a woman, not an aging rat terrier.

Liz Taylor by Richard Avedon
Today's celebrities are really cheesy in the way they beg, borrow, or steal the fabulous jewels they are seen wearing on the red carpet. They are wealthy, but apparently not the kind of wealthy that allows them to buy and wear Van Cleef & Arpels or Bulgari on a regular basis. However, it does appear to be a symbiotic relationship between the stars and the designers who need celebrities to help them establish their name. Are there no new designers out there who have enough confidence in their stuff to put their stuff out there for the sake of their own stuff? Does every new designer need a celebrity name behind them in order to get started, let alone survive? As I grow more and more tired of celebrity entitlement, I long for a true designer (jewelry or clothing) who can rest on their laurels alone.

Liz ignoring the rule... put all your jewelry on and then remove one piece.
Liz, Wallis, and Jackie were the last of a fine breed of American women who lived a life my generation is not familiar with. The uber-jewel collections have migrated to the Asian, Russian, and Middle Eastern communities (not including the Royals, who really don't own any of it - they just host it) because that is where the wealth is today. Enjoy ladies! Protect those sparkles, and like Liz said, "I am fortunate to have some very important pieces of jewelry. I don't believe I own any of the pieces. I believe that I am their custodian, here to enjoy them, to give them the best treatment in the world, to watch after their safety, and to love them."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor's Jewels Go To Auction

For those amongst us who truly covet the beautiful gems of the world and the back stories of those who owned them, get ready because some of the most magnificent jewelry in the world are about to be recycled. From Cartier and Van Cleef and Arpels to JAR and Bulgari, this December, Christie's will auction Elizabeth Taylor's complete jewelry collection, estimated to be worth 30 million dollars or more. Christie's will also auction a group of Taylor's better costume jewelry along with some of her clothes, which seems a little Skelator to me; however, as we all know, there is a market for everything. Over the next few weeks I'll look a little more closely at Liz's jewels and the stories behind them.

One of her most memorable jewels is the Krupp diamond, now known as the "Elizabeth Taylor Diamond," which Richard Burton bought for her in 1968 for $305,000. At that time, this was the highest price ever paid for a diamond at auction. An Ascher cut diamond, weighing 33.19 carats of D, VS1 magnificence, today the diamond is valued at between $2,500,000 - $3,000,000.

Previously owned by Vera Krupp von Bohlen und Halback, wife of the German industrialist, Alfried Krupp, etc., etc., the diamond was auctioned after Vera's death. There is a somewhat creepy background to the stone as Alfried was a key supplier of weapons and material to the Nazis during World War II.  Krupp's insistence on using slave labor taken directly from the concentration camps, even when free German labor was offered from the government, resulted in his trial and ultimate three year imprisonment after the war. 
The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, 33.19 carats, D Color, potentially Internally Flawless.
Gift from Richard Burton, May 16, 1968.
Eat your heart out Kim Kardashian.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lorraine Schwartz Opens Exclusive Boutique in Bergdorf's

Elusive Lorraine Schwartz
Hot on the heels of Kim Kardashian's amazing wedding jewelry, and along with Beyonce, Angelina, and Jennifer's incredible sparkles, Lorraine Schwartz has opened an exclusive boutique in New York's fabulous little jewel, Bergdorf Goodman.

Schwartz told Women's Wear Daily, "The boutique is the only place where you can see my entire collection," which includes, Against Evil Eye, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil Monkeys, and 2BHappy.

Bergdorf's has hosted many of Schwartz's little beauties for years now but made the decision to open dedicated real estate due to the need for extra space, which they will need in case Kim Kardashian's ass ever shows up for an event.  Bergdorf's is a small store as you know...

18 carats and worth $5 million dollars to get married, I wonder what Beyonce's push gift will be???