More Than 1,000 Items Owned by Elizabeth Taylor to Hit the Auction Block

Quinn Tivey - Getty - H 2019
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Quinn Tivey, one of the screen icon’s grandsons, is previewing several lots from the "Property From the Lifestyle of Elizabeth Taylor" sale this week aboard the Queen Mary 2 in New York, while discussing his legendary grandmother.

Quinn Tivey remembers wearing a pair of purple suede shoes during a visit to his grandmother’s Bel-Air home. “We were talking, just hanging out, and then all of a sudden she looked down and saw them,” he recalls. “I think I’m lucky I was able to leave with them still on my feet.”

Tivey is joking, of course, but when your grandmother was screen icon Elizabeth Taylor, it was a given she would take notice of anything in a hue that matched her legendary violet eyes. “It was without a doubt her favorite color,” Tivey says. “You still see it in the archives; she loved to collect purple.” (The 33-year-old son of Liza Todd, daughter of Taylor and third husband Mike Todd, and artist Hap Tivey, Quinn inherited his grandmother’s eyes, that distinct shade of blue tinged with lilac.) 

From satin evening bags to cashmere gloves, the color indeed can be found among the latest items that have debuted in advance of the upcoming “Property from the Lifestyle of Elizabeth Taylor,” a three-day auction set for Dec. 6-8 at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. Lots hadn’t been finalized when the sale was announced in early July; since then, the team that oversees Taylor’s considerable archives has gathered more than 1,000 items, including film costumes, personal wardrobe and accessories, luggage, tableware and decorative art. 

Together with Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien’s Auctions, Tivey is previewing several lots this week aboard the Queen Mary 2 following the ship's transatlantic crossing from Southampton, England, to New York. Julien’s has hosted these onboard previews since 2008; last year, Nolan accompanied Bob Mackie for a preview in advance of a November auction of pieces from the designer’s archives.

“We do these previews as a chance for people to see, up close, film costumes and other items worn by genuine icons,” Nolan says. “It’s not just a chance to see something in person; of course, we’re also hoping they’ll see something they might like to own. And with this Elizabeth Taylor sale that’s especially true because, unlike the famous sale that happened in 2011, many items may be more affordable than you think.” 

Christie’s New York hosted an estate sale in December 2011, an event that Taylor helped to plan prior to her death in March of the same year. That auction, which included some of the star’s most legendary jewels, set several records and raised more than $156 million. This time around, Nolan says, collectors and fans likely won’t be intimidated by some of the lot estimates and winning bids. “This auction has been put together to show the fun side of Elizabeth Taylor, and features costume jewelry and other pieces with estimates that start at $300,” he notes. 

Onboard the Queen Mary 2, Tivey brought one the auction’s most high-profile pieces, the black leather Versace jacket Taylor wore for a 1992 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, among the higher-priced pieces with an auction estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. At the other end of the price spectrum, two Hermès scarves and a pair of Prada floral-embellished strappy slides carry auction estimates of $300 to $500 each. Designer items also include a pair of Louis Vuitton boots with kitten heels, crafted in the house’s iconic Monogram print (estimated to fetch between $1,000 and $2,000), and an exotic-skin belt with a buckle in 18-karat yellow gold and accented with nine round diamonds totaling .85 carats by Van Cleef & Arpels, also among the higher estimates at $3,000 to $5,000. Among the clothing are a variety of caftans, including a lime-green style accented with purple stitching, which Taylor wore for a 2006 appearance on Larry King Live. “She loved her caftans,” Tivey says.

Details also have been finalized for the boxed-set auction catalog, available in two versions: a collector’s edition ($400) and a "limited premium collector’s edition" ($1,000), which is housed in a purple velvet case and includes a limited-edition photo print. All proceeds from the latter will go to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, of which Tivey is an officer (he’s been a trustee of Taylor’s estate since 2016). “I’ve never experienced producing a catalog like this one,” Nolan says. “Every detail is considered so carefully considered by all involved, and everyone has the same thought in mind: What would Elizabeth do? It’s as though there’s a chair in the room for her, and everyone is thinking about what she would want.” 

Tivey isn’t surprised by Nolan’s statement. “So much of what we do is with my grandmother’s legacy in mind,” he says. “The catalog, with sales benefiting the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, is a perfect example of that. She was passionate about raising both funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS, so of course that had to be a component of this. We just finished our 2019 grants, which always focus on key areas that were important to my grandmother: prevention, treatment, education and advocacy. Ultimately all of this makes sense for who she was and how she lived her life.”