Clockwise from left: ‘The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond’, a gift from Richard Burton. Elizabeth Taylor’s diamond and multicoloured sapphire “Ball” ear clips, from JARS. The Mike Todd Tiara. Image Credit: AP

New York: Auctions of Elizabeth Taylor's collection of jewels, gowns, art and memorabilia broke records last week on their way to totaling more than $150 million (Dh551 million) worth of live and online sales, Christie's said on Monday.

Four days of live auctions in New York and a 10-day online auction from the Hollywood film legend's collection took in a total of $156,756,576, or more than three times expectations.

Taylor's world-renowned collection of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, pearls, emeralds and more accounted for the vast majority of the haul, selling for a combined $137 million and becoming by far the most valuable jewelry sale ever.

Records were set for pearls, emeralds, and Indian jewels, while per-carat records were broken for a rubies, yellow, and colorless diamonds.

"My mother always acknowledged that she was merely the temporary custodian of the incredible things she owned," said Taylor's son Chris Wilding, who is a member of the Elizabeth Taylor Trust. "My family is proud that our mother's legacy as a celebrated actress, tireless AIDS activist, and accomplished businesswoman touched so many people's lives that they wanted to have a part of it history," he said.

Taylor's couture gowns and apparel sale also set a record for the most valuable private collection ever sold at auction, taking in more than $5 million including commission.

The marathon sales' statistics spoke for themselves and highlighted the worldwide interest in the Hollywood legend who rose to fame as a young star of the movie National Velvet and went on to claim two acting Oscars for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Taylor, who died in March at age 79, lived a glamorous life of numerous marriages to often wealthy and powerful men who lavished her with jewelry and other fine things.

Tabulating Taylor

Among the highlights of the sale: every one of the 1,778 lots offered sold; 26 items sold for more than $1 million and six sold for over $5 million; final prices soared to as many as 400 times their pre-sale estimates; bidders at the live auctions spanned 36 countries.

Since September, some 58,000 visitors viewed highlights of the collection on a world tour that stopped in Moscow, London, Dubai, Paris and Hong Kong, with nearly half that total paying $30 to see the offerings at New York's 10-day exhibition.

The online component alone took in nearly $10 million, with more than 57,000 bids. Even catalogs -- some signed, limited edition offerings priced at more than $2,000 -- were a hot item.

Proceeds of a portion of the exhibition, catalog and other related events went to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The top price paid during the series of auctions was $11,842,500 for the historic La Peregrina, a 203-grain (equivalent to 55 carat) pear-shaped 16th-century pearl once owned by England's Mary Tudor and later by Spanish queens Margarita and Isabel.

Taylor's husband Richard Burton bought the pearl in 1969 at auction for $37,000, and Taylor commissioned Cartier to design a ruby-and-diamond necklace mount. The piece was estimated to sell at $2 million to $3 million.

Taylor's famous 33-carat diamond ring, another Burton gift now renamed The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, went for $8.8 million, setting a per-carat record for a colorless diamond.

Even the star's charm bracelets drew intense competition, with one estimated at $30,000 soaring to more than $325,000. Similarly, the top lot of the online auction -- Hiro Yamagata's "Portrait of Elizabeth Taylor" from 1991 -- sold for $108,000, against a pre-sale estimate of about $250.

Other top prices paid online for ranged from $45,000 $78,000. Among memorabilia, Taylor's script from National Velvet fetched $170,500, against a $2,500 estimate. More artwork from Taylor's collection will also be offered in February at Christie's in London during its auctions of old master paintings and Impressionist and modern art.