This week I lined up with some of the approximately 30,000 people who are expected to view the Elizabeth Taylor collection of jewels, clothes, art works and memorabilia before they are auctioned in mid-December.
The throngs were so great we needed timed tickets; the showing was at Christie’s at Rockefeller Center.
Oh my…La Liz had had a very long life and mementoes and trophies from each stage were for sale. There was the children’s book she had written about her pet squirrel, “Nibbles and Me.” After her interests turned to more adult fare, there were director’s chairs and a Van Gogh expected to fetch $15 million dollars; there were bound scripts and Louis Vuitton suitcases with “MINE!” tags on them, clothing from all of her bodily incarnations, from her 17” waist days (one of the other visitors said that, but I wonder if she is not confusing Liz with Scarlett O’Hara) to the voluminous designer caftans of her large phase. But all that was just a lead-up to…the Jewels.
That was what everyone had come to see. In case after case, draped over lavender busts, were the iconic gems so associated with her life. There were elegant, vintage pieces given her by Mike Todd, a diamond tiara and a bib necklace with rubies. There were honkers given her by Richard Burton, leaning heavily toward emeralds. Both her wedding rings with Burton were for sale. (Now, a real collector’s item would be all 8 of her wedding rings in a nice leather case. I wonder what happened to the other 6.) There was the enormous 16th century pearl, la Peregrina, and then there was the humonguous, ginormous 33 carat square cut diamond, flanked by a scowling guard and eager onlookers.
Yet oddly, without her in them, they were just…necklaces and rings and earrings. Her presence, and love of them, was what had given them life and intrigue. Now she, and the people who gave her the jewels, had vanished, tolling a melancholy bell. Mike Todd, Richard Burton, Michael Jackson. Her friends, featured in many photos accompanying the exhibit: James Dean, Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowall, Malcolm Forbes, had passed on. It was time for Liz to join them, leaving just the shell of the jewels behind.
For us mortals to gape at.