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Elizabeth Taylor auction preview coming to MOCA's PDC

September 23, 2011 |  4:42 pm

 
A bejeweled Elizabeth Taylor in Las Vegas in 1959
Jewels, gowns and paintings that added color to Elizabeth Taylor’s life are already, six months after her death, traveling the world en route to new owners. Christie’s is taking the material to eight cities in seven countries for sales previews or "exhibitions" before putting it up for auction.

This weekend is the London showing. Much of the material then travels to Los Angeles for a preview at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center branch from Oct. 13 to 16. Tickets for the L.A. event went on sale Thursday at christies.com. Five thousand tickets are available at $20 each; 850 sold within the first two hours, according to a Christie's spokesperson.

The jewelry for sale includes Taylor's much-photographed 33-carat rectangular-cut diamond, a gift from two-time-husband Richard Burton, now estimated at $2.5 million  to $3.5 million. Art highlights include major paintings by Degas, Pissarro and Van Gogh (on view in London but not L.A.) as well as works on paper that the actress received from artist-admirers like Andy Warhol (on view in L.A.).

The profits from the preview at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center will be split between the museum and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation; a minimum contribution of $100,000 will go to the museum. Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, says that he approached MOCA. "We considered hotels, theaters and other sorts of venues before deciding this one was perfect," he says, citing its location, size, the availability of parking and security as leading concerns.

A sapphire and diamond sautoir from the Elizabeth Taylor collection MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch says the event was good timing as MOCA happened to be in between shows at the Pacific Design Center space, and the preview fit one of the museum’s goals. “The larger community is not aware we have a gallery there, so using this partnership is a way for us to get tremendous attention for that location,” he says.

Asked about the appropriateness of a museum giving over its space to a commercial enterprise, Deitch offered examples of other museums renting out spaces, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art offering its Temple of Dendur hall for corporate events to the Brooklyn Museum of Art renting out its atrium for parties. “Rental agreements are routine,” he says, “and this one provides more benefits to the public and to MOCA.”

A preview of the Taylor estate has already taken place in Moscow. Future stops on the tour include the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai, the Four Seasons Hotel in Geneva, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center in Wanchai, and Christie’s salesrooms in Paris and New York.

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-- Jori Finkel

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Photos, from top: Elizabeth Taylor in Las Vegas in 1959. Credit: John Bryson/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

A sapphire and diamond sautoir by Bulgari, estimated at $600,000-$800,000, will be part of the "Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: The Legendary Jewels" sale on Dec. 13 at Christie's New York. Credit: Christie's Images Ltd., 2011.

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