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Elizabeth Taylor auction sets record

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A collection of fabulous gems belonging to the late Elizabeth Taylor has fetched £74 million in one night, setting a world record for the sale of private jewellery at auction.

The Christie's sale of 80 items in New York last night (13 December) was expected to raise £13 million, but ended up far exceeding that estimate.

Highlights included a necklace with a 16th Century pearl, known as "La Peregrina,"which sold for £7.6 million and a 19-carat diamond ring that was brought for £5.7 million by a private buyer from Asia.

Both jewels were given as gifts to Elizabeth by actor Richard Burton, whom she famously married twice.

Other high-profile jewels sold at the auction included a diamond bracelet given to the National Velvet actress by singer Michael Jackson, which fetched over £125,000. A Taj Mahal diamond, another gift from Burton for Elizabeth's 40th birthday, sold for £5.7 million.

Those present at the auction said applause broke out among bidders as the auction value rocketed.

Elizabeth, a Hollywood screen icon who starred in a string of classic movies including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, died in Los Angeles in March aged 79.

She was feted for her extravagant style and owned pieces from some of the world's most exclusive brands, including Cartier and Chopard.

Christie's Marc Porter branded the auction "extraordinary" and said it was "a testament to the love of Elizabeth Taylor worldwide."

Other sales of Elizabeth's clothing, art and other memorabilia will go on sale later this week, with some proceeds benefitting the actress' Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation that she set up in 1991.

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