(click photo to see interview)
New York's been abuzz over the Christie's auction of Elizabeth Taylor's personal artifacts, especially her unparalleled jewelry collection. For Verdura CEO Ward Landrigan, the event has a special significance. Back in the late 1960's and early 1970's, as the twenty-something head of the jewelry department at Sotheby's, he had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of coordinating the purchase and personal delivery of three important jewels to the silver screen legend and spending time with her.
In 1968, Ward sold the first piece, what was then known as the Krupp Diamond, to Richard Burton, Taylor's husband, as a gift for his wife. Selling for $305,000, it was a record sale at the time, and required Ward to personally deliver it to Miss Taylor in London the very next day. Ward's "week with Elizabeth," as told to David Patrick Columbia is recounted on newyorksocialdiary.com .
The Krupp diamond was just the first jewel purchase that Ward Landrigan handled for Elizabeth. There were two others - the 68 carat "Taylor-Burton" diamond, purchased for $1.05 million (the first diamond ever sold for over $1 million) and this week's top-selling item at auction, the 50.6 carat drop-shaped pearl known as "La Peregrina." which the Burtons bought for $37,000 in 1969 and brought in a record $11.8 million. This time Ward delivered the pearl to the Taylor-Burtons in Las Vegas, at Caesar's Palace. For the incredible story of Ward's delivery, and a mishap involving a pink shag rug and Taylor's Lhasa Apso, please click here and scroll down to read all about it.