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Buying frenzy greets Liz Taylor dresses auction

16 december 2011, 19:46
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Some of the items up for bid during the "Collection of Elizabeth Taylor" sale. ©AFP
Some of the items up for bid during the "Collection of Elizabeth Taylor" sale. ©AFP
The allure of owning a piece of Elizabeth Taylor's glamour -- and her epic romance with Richard Burton -- drove prices sky high Wednesday at an auction of the Hollywood legend's haute couture and jewelry, AFP reports.

Coming the day after a record-setting $116 million auction of Taylor's fanciest jewels, including an $11.8-million pearl necklace, the sale at Christie's in New York again saw stunning prices.

A highlight of the auction -- the yellow chiffon dress she wore for her first marriage to fellow star Burton -- did not go under the hammer. Christie's announced it had been withdrawn and would be donated to an institution.

But for cinema and fashion history lovers there was plenty more, starting with the two diamond and gold wedding bands given by Burton to Taylor upon their marriage in 1964 and remarriage in 1975.

The rings, estimated before the sale to be worth $6,000-$8,000, sold for just over $1 million.

There was also a chance to get the dress Taylor wore at that second wedding with Burton, an ethereal Gina Fratini number that had been estimated to sell for $10,000-12,000 but finally sold for $62,500.

Taylor was always famous for her extraordinary wardrobe and one of the biggest successes of the auction was a silver Christian Dior evening gown and matching bag fetching $362,500, leaving the estimate of $4,000-6,000 trailing.

Another Dior, this time an evening gown in scarlet chiffon, sold for $20,000, four times the pre-sale estimate, while a beaded 1992 Versace jacket known as "The Face," fetched $128,500, more than six times its high estimate.

Among many wild mismatches between the conservative pre-sale estimates and prices realized was the $40,000 paid for a black linen Yves Saint Laurent coat and gown. The lot had been expected to fetch just $2,000-$3,000.

A limited edition Andy Warhol lithograph of Taylor, signed and dedicated to her "with much love," raced past its pre-sale estimate of $30,000-$50,000 to finally go for $662,500.

While jewelry sales did not include the blockbuster pieces featuring in Tuesday's diamond- and emerald-laden auction, appetite was still strong, with even minor pieces attracting strong bidding.

A gem and gold scarab necklace expected to get maximum $2,000 sold for $74,500. An Art Nouveau glass, enamel and pearl brooch fetched $566,500, compared to its estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

A pair of aluminum ear clips estimated at $1,000-$2,000 went for $43,750, indicating that collectors were willing to go far for even for the least spectacular lot, as long as it once belonged to the screen siren.

A set of paper imitation jewelry listed in the catalogue at a mere $200-300 ended going for $6,875.

One intriguing item for any movie buff was a saffron yellow robe worn by Taylor in the movie "Cleopatra." It sold for $62,500.

There were to be many more such opportunities on Thursday and Friday, when the huge sale moved into accessories and memorabilia.

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