Star power drove prices for items from actress Elizabeth Taylor's estate to five, ten or even 50 times their pre-sale estimates at a series of Christie's sales. Bidders worldwide clamored for 1,817 lots of fine art, jewelry, fashion, decorative arts and memorabilia from the late Taylor's personal collection. Not a single lot passed, making this Hollywood's icon's estate auction a major "white glove" sale.
At Christie’s two-day series of sales devoted to Impressionist and Modern Art in London on Tuesday and Wednesday, 38 works of art owned by Taylor were offered for sale, and achieved a combined total of $24,628,618. Among the stand-out lots of Wednesday’s sale was Kees Van Dongen’s charming Promenade à cheval – a gift from her father, the art dealer Francis Taylor – which sold for £601,250 ($955,988), well above its £120,000 estimate. A group of 13 works by the modern British artist Augustus John also performed well as a whole, realizing a combined total of £192,825 ($306,592/€230,619), against an estimate of £152,000 for the group.
The top lot of the two-day series – and of the complete collection – was Vincent Van Gogh’s Vue de l’asile et de la Chappelle de Saint-Rémy, which sold for £10,121,250 ($15,991,575) on Tuesday evening. Up until her death in March of 2011, the Van Gogh and many other paintings featured in the sales had been displayed on the walls of Taylor’s home in Bel Air, CA.
In December 2011, Christie’s New York sold Taylor’s vast collections of jewelry, fashion, decorative arts and memorabilia in a four-day marathon auction series that totaled $156.8 million and set a world record for the most valuable sale of jewelry in auction history, and set a new bar for the most valuable collection of fashion ever offered at auction.