Nightly News | December 01, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: More than 15,000 people have purchased tickets in the past few days just to see what's for sale at auction here in Midtown Manhattan . Christie 's auction house is about to sell Elizabeth Taylor 's jewelry collection. It's dazzling, it's way over the top, and it's a long story told in rocks and baubles and glimmer. It is the story of one of the world's biggest stars and the men who loved her. NBC 's Anne Thompson has received an advanced look.
ANNE THOMPSON reporting: She once said it's not the having, it's the getting. And no one got jewelry like Elizabeth Taylor .
THOMPSON: Her diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and more diamonds are up for auction this month at Christie's . Among the pieces the diamond and ruby necklace, earrings and bracelet her third husband Mike Todd presented poolside in the Riviera .
Ms. HEATHER BARNHART (Christie's): She immediately put it on and just squealed with delight and started doing laps in the pool.
THOMPSON: The most stunning jewels come from the man Taylor married twice, actor Richard Burton , including this 33-carat diamond ring . So this wasn't an engagement ring?
Ms. BARNHART: No. This was a present from Richard Burton . She owned this over 30 years and wore it almost every day of her life.
THOMPSON: They were jet setters, leading offscreen lives often more dramatic and captivating than what they did on screen, and the jewelry reflected that. Richard Burton had some competition for this pearl.
Ms. BARNHART: Yes, he did. The Spanish royal family wanted to purchase this back as it had been in their family so many years, but Richard Burton had to have it for Elizabeth Taylor .
THOMPSON: These were the spoils of a pingpong game.
Ms. BARNHART: And she said, 'If I win, you have to buy me a diamond.' And he went out and bought her the smallest diamond he could find. And so these were forever known as the "Ping Pong Rings."
THOMPSON: Heather, is this great jewelry because Elizabeth Taylor wore it or is it just great jewelry ?
Ms. BARNHART: It's just spectacular jewelry .
THOMPSON: For this woman who knew how to make an entrance, how to command attention, Christie's hopes Taylor 's jewels alone will bring in more than $30 million. Great expectations for jewelry she kept in boxes with labels Taylor made herself. From child star to siren to activist, Elizabeth Taylor 's dazzling legacy is now for sale. Anne Thompson , NBC News, New York.