Gifts for the ages

Centuries-old jewelry, monumental buildings, brazen forgeries – human history knows many examples of fascinating gifts. Also from state to state.

Liz Taylor with 50-carat drops, auctioned for $ 37,000

“It’s not about owning something”, Elisabeth Taylor once said, “but about how you got it”. The woman knew what she was talking about: If anyone knew how to receive presents, it was Taylor. Richard Burton, fifth (and sixth) husband of the actress, was not entirely innocent. Taylor liked to say that Burton was so romantic that he always found new occasions for presents. So there were “It’s-Tuesday-and-I-love-you-gifts”, “Today is a beautiful day gifts” and “Let’s-go-for-a-walk-I-want-to-you- what-buy-gifts ”.

However, it was by no means a question of small gifts: the British actor showered his Liz with expensive jewelry, primarily from the Italian luxury jeweler Bulgari from Rome. Burton had met the film diva there while filming “Cleopatra”. Over the years in which the two had a passionate and scandalous relationship with the public eye, a lot of sparkling gifts came together. There is, for example, the “Peregrina”, one of the largest saltwater pearls ever found. The 50-carat drop was fished from the Gulf of Panama in the 16th century and hung on the necks of Spanish queens before it adorned Taylor’s cleavage 500 years later. Burton bought the pearl for $ 37,000 in 1969 and gave it to Taylor for Valentine’s Day. When the jewelry collection of the Hollywood beauty went under the hammer at Christie’s in New York after her death in 2011, the necklace with the pearl dangling from it was bought by an anonymous bidder for $ 10.5 million – the highest price for a pearl jewelry that was ever achieved at an auction. Increase in value: an unbelievable 30,000 percent.