Elizabeth Taylor's 'personal' collectibles - and their appeal at auction

Collectibles from an iconic star's professional career - like Michael Jackon's Thriller red leather jacket for instance - are one thing. But the personal memorabilia of history's greatest stars can also draw bidders to the world's top auction houses.

With iconic female stars, this fascination can extend to the relationships they had with influential men. Like Marilyn Monroe's wedding to baseball star Joe DiMaggio, for instance, whose ring set to auction in December.

But another star whose personal life offers more fascination than most is Elizabeth Taylor. A touring exhibition of about 80 of Taylor's jewels is currently on show in Paris - many of which offer a fascinating insight into her passionate and tempestuous relationship with Richard Burton.

Among the pieces in the expo which will later auction at Christie's is a 16th century pearl necklace, once worn by the Queen of Spain for a Velazquez portrait. For Hollywood's golden couple, an item as treasured as this made a perfect Valentine's gift from Burton to Taylor.

The diamonds, rubies and emeralds in the travelling exhibition are together set to bring between $30-50m in total. Although, given Taylor's immense draw on the collectors markets, their value could rise even higher.


Christie's upcoming sale of Elizabeth Taylor's jewellery promises to
illuminate various episodes from her personal - rather than professional
life, mirroring collectors' fasination with the woman behind the legend

Among the most fascinating pieces are bracelets 'made' by Taylor throughout her life, bearing charms added by the actress to mark various important occasions. Each of her children is represented by their birth dates, for instance, while Burton is represented by his astrology sign in gold (he was a Scorpion).

Christie's isn't the only auctioneer to have dibs on fascinating collectibles from Taylor's private life.

London's Kerry Taylor auctions is selling two exceptional outfits once worn by the star - neither of which are from her movie roles. A simple Chanel shift dress with matching jacket in gold brocatelle and the famous 'Sari' gown designed for her by Cristobal Balenciaga will appear for sale.

Instead, the dresses represent Taylor at perhaps her most happy, personally and professionally. Taylor wore the dress of gold brocade as she was photographed with Richard Burton when they attended the premiere of the New Review Lido in Paris, in December 1964.

As Kerry Taylor agrees that stars' personal lives can boost the appeal of their memorabilia. "Both of these dresses were worn by Elizabeth Taylor at her most beautiful, slender and curvaceous," she recently told Paul Fraser Collectibles.

"If you look in the photographs of her wearing them, she also appears to be at her most happy having just met a delicious Welshman [Burton]! And of course both designed for her by Cristobal Balenciaga - a genius, probably the best designer in the world at the time.



'Look in the photographs of her wearing them, she also appears to be at
her most happy having just met a delicious Welshman [Burton]!' says
auctioneer Kerry Taylor about these dresses for sale

"In the case of the shift dress with matching jacket, most women at the time would have perhaps worn that in tweed, but Liz wore hers in gold brocatelle! Very fitting in the wake of her success as Cleopatra."

While it is easy to identify the allure of a star's 'professional collectibles', don't underestimate the drawn of personal items too.

Like Marilyn Monroe's bathrobe, which once sold for an extraordinary $120,000 in Las Vegas - 20 times what the seller originally paid for it a decade earlier 1999.

Meanwhile, Monroe's wedding ring from her union with DiMaggio will be estimated at $300,000-500,000 when it auctions next month. It could sell for even more, especially considering that Monroe and DiMaggio are regarded as being 'the love' of each others' lives.

While collectors continue to enjoy the classic films of Monroe and Taylor, it seems the stories and glamourous and fascinating lives behind the art also holds plenty of allure.

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