After viewing the traveling show "The Elizabeth Taylor Collection" at MOCA PDC this morning, it isn't hard to understand why Andy Warhol once said, "It would be very glamorous to be reincarnated as a great big ring on Liz Taylor's finger."
Taylor, who died last March at the age of 79, spent a lifetime amassing her legendary collection of fabulous jewels, fine art, and haute couture. The show, which represents just highlights of the collection that will be auctioned by Christie's this winter, is a window into Taylor's dazzling life. After being on display in Moscow and London, the exhibit will run in Los Angeles for four days beginning Oct 13 then move on to Dubai, Geneva, Paris, Hong Kong, and New York.
The jewelry is considered one of the greatest private collections ever assembled. There are stories behind numerous pieces. Many were gifts from the men in Taylor's life. Viewers can drool over gems from husband numbers 5 & 6, Richard Burton — including the 33-carat "Elizabeth Taylor Diamond" ring; "La Peregrina," a ruby and diamond necklace incorporating a 16th century pearl once owned by King Phillip 2 of Spain; and the "Taj Majal Diamond," a 40th birthday present.
From husband number 3, Mike Todd, there is the "Mike Todd Diamond Tiara;" given to Taylor in 1957 and the "Cartier Ruby Suite" which Todd gave her while she was swimming in their pool in St. Jean Cap Ferrat. One of the most unique pieces is the necklace fashioned from ivory theater tokens once owned by Hollywood costume designer Edith Head. This was Head's signature necklace and Taylor admired it throughout the years of their close friendship. Head left it to Taylor in her will.
Warhol's 1963 portrait of Taylor is there, representing just a small part of Taylor's art collection. Also on display is a Versace beaded evening jacket from the 1990s, arrayed with portraits of Taylor in her most famous roles, a Chanel ballgown, and a Tiziani black velvet evening cape from the late 1960s which Taylor wore to Princess Grace's 40th birthday ball.
It's not surprising that tickets sold out quickly. Exhibit organizers announced this morning that viewing hours will be extended to include Friday and Saturday evenings from 8 p.m. to midnight on Oct. 14 and 15. Tickets cost $50.00 and will go on sale tomorrow morning at www.christies.com/elizabethtaylor. A portion of the profits will be donated to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Those lucky lucky enough to score tickets most likely won't be disappointed. Fans will get a close look at many of Taylor's most treasured posessions. Collectors will no doubt contemplate making arrangements to attend the auctions in New York and London. Taylor herself would be pleased. She always planned to put her jewelry up for auction with the hope that the next owners would "give them a really good home."
"The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor" @MOCA Pacific Design Center
Oct. 13-16, 2011
Photos by Sean Roderick except sautoir, which was provided by MOCA.