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Rene Lalique Pendant Owned By Elizabeth Taylor Sells For $566,500: A Great R. Lalique Sales Result!

R. Lalique Pendant Owned By Elizabeth Taylor Sold For Over $500,000Richard Burton, perhaps the most well known among the 8 husbands and other loves of Elizabeth Taylor, was apparently the most prolific jewelry buyer in her life. Burton gave Taylor some incredible pieces of jewelry including for example a pearl (not pictured here) from the 1500’s once owned by England’s Mary Tudor and for which Burton paid $37,000 in 1969. This pearl was found in the Gulf of Panama in the early 16th century at a time when Spain was exploring and colonizing the new world. At the time, it was the biggest pearl known, being 56 carats!

It was taken to Spain by Don Pedro de Temez, the administrator of the Panama Colony and presented to King Philip. Philip gave the “La Peregrina Pearl” (la peregrina means the pilgrim or the wanderer) to Queen Mary as a wedding present when they got married in 1544, and it appears in a portrait from that same year of Queen Mary The 1st, painted by Hans Eworth; a painting that Taylor and Burton helped the National Portrait Gallery in Great Britain to acquire in 1972. This pearl reverted to King Philip on Mary’s death, and was part of the Crown Jewels of Spain for around 250 years. Several portraits exist of royalty wearing this pearl including portraits painted by Diego Velazquez. In 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte put his brother Joseph (Giuseppe) on the Spanish throne, but Joe’s time as King of Spain lasted just 5 years due to some setbacks for the Bonaparte crowd and the Spanish not taking too kindly to an imposed French King. Being a first class guy, Joe grabbed the pearl (and a lot of other jewelry) on the way out the door as he fled.

Joseph ended up living in the United States for roughly 15 years from about 1817 to 1832, mainly in New Jersey, where among his other activities he had two American daughters by a mistress. When Joseph died he left the pearl to his nephew Charles Louis Bonaparte, who later was Emperor Bonaparte. Charles sold the pearl while exiled in England to James Hamilton, who would become the Duke of Abercorn (an interesting guy that fathered 14 kids by one wife and who among other things was the Grandmaster of the Grand Lodge of Ireland!). The pearl stayed in his family until 1969 when it was auctioned at Sotheby’s to Burton, who gave it to Taylor as a present! Can you imagine a better or longer provenance? The pearl sold this week for near $12 million! You can watch a video of the sale of this pearl (and a couple other lots from this auction) at the Christie’s website here.

But the Richard Burton gift of interest to us is the blue and green glass R. Lalique Pendant *** featuring a medusa head in a frame of gold serpents with blue and green enamel and having the Lalique trademark single suspended pearl. A much smaller pearl than the one previously discussed. 🙂

This wonderful Lalique Pendant appeared in New York in the sale of the Collection of Elizabeth Taylor Jewelry as Lot Number 281 estimated at $40,000 – $60,000; a not so hidden gem amongst the raft of big gemstone offerings. When the hammer came down, the total sale price including buyers premium was an over 10 times estimate $566,500.

A pearl of a result for a great example of the art that is Rene Lalique jewelry.

If you want to learn more about the great jewelry of Lalique, you’ll find insightful reporting and links to the extensive information at RLalique.com in the R.Lalique Biography section for Lalique’s Jewelry!

*** Christie’s has identified this great object as a brooch. The form of this object appears to us to more closely resemble an R. Lalique pendant than a brooch. An inspection of whatever pin is on the back of the piece, which we have not seen, would settle the question from among the various possiblities.

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