Trustees for the late actress's estate say the action house botched the auction

By Tim Nudd
February 26, 2015 09:40 AM
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Inset:Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty

An ugly fight has broken out over one of the world’s most beautiful jewels.

The estate of Elizabeth Taylor is suing Christie’s auction house over the 2011 auction of the late actress’s jewelry and other precious items. At issue, in particular, is the famed Taj Mahal diamond that Taylor received from husband Richard Burton on her 40th birthday.

The 17th-century diamond pendant sold for more than $8 million to an anonymous buyer, but that buyer later asked for the sale to be canceled, alleging that the jewel hadn’t actually belonged to a Mughal emperor, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Christie’s canceled the sale, but that was in violation of its own policies, Taylor’s trustees claim. They say Christie’s never guaranteed the diamond’s age or Mughal origins.

After the sale’s cancellation, Christie’s demanded that the trustees return the money paid for the necklace, but the trustees refused to do so. In retaliation, the trustees claim, Christie’s refused to pay proceeds from the sale of one of Taylor’s Bulgari rings.

The trustees also say there are missing items that were supposedly auctioned off for which they haven’t received any money. All proceeds from the auction were to have gone to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

A Christie’s spokesperson said in a statement that the auction house “was pleased to create a landmark auction event on behalf of the Elizabeth Taylor Trust that produced over $183.5 million in proceeds for the beneficiaries of the Trust – the friends and family of Elizabeth Taylor.”

The auction house is “seeking the return of a small portion of these proceeds due to the cancellation of a single item from that sale, and Christie’s looks forward to a speedy resolution of this matter,” the statement added.

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