A s the recent unprecedented times have reminded us to celebrate life and brought a new appreciation for beautiful, timeless craftsmanship, Sotheby’s is pleased to present a new series of luxury sales celebrating Europe’s Epicurean art de vivre entitled “Life is Beautiful”.
London’s Life is Beautiful sale reflects the quintessence of Britain’s luxury tradition. From jewellery and watches to collectors’ cars, handbags, design and decorative arts among other categories, the offering has been curated to showcase the best of the best in the production of Britain: iconic objects designed by storied brands, combining rich heritage, impeccable craftsmanship and the unique evocative power of luxury.
Sapphire and Diamond Ring from the Collection of Elizabeth Taylor
Sapphire and diamond ring
Estimate: 10,000 - 15,000 GBP
Designed as a tiered cluster of brilliant-cut diamonds and circular-cut sapphires, size L.
Elizabeth Taylor, the iconic English American actress, had a fabled love affair with jewellery and men, with no less than eight official marriages on the books. This sapphire and diamond ring perfectly encapsulates how both romance and jewels were interwoven into the very fabric of her life.
Originally auctioned in 2011 as part of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor sale, the ring was offered before its fascinating backstory had been revealed. In 2017, previously unseen photos of a flamboyantly dressed Taylor wearing the ring appeared in Italian photographer Gianni Bozzachi’s memoir, My Life in Focus: A Photographer’s Journey with Elizabeth Taylor and the Hollywood Jet Set. Bozzachi makes the claim that Taylor set up the shoot in response to the suggestion of an affair between Richard Burton and Sophia Loren during his stay at her Marino villa. As was well documented by the press, Burton and Taylor’s relationship had its ups and downs, seeing them marry, divorce, re-marry and finally divorce again. According to Bozzachi, when she learned about the supposed affair, she “wanted the world to know she was single, still young, and beautiful”. The photos were to be sold to magazines to accompany stories on her divorce of Burton.
However, it should be noted that there is another version of this story in circulation. After learning about the alleged affair between Burton and Loren, Taylor travelled to Rome in 1973 with the goal of winning back her lover. Bozzacchi, who was a close companion of the couple, arranged an intimate dinner, giving them both the opportunity to rekindle their relationship. His ploy was successful. In celebration of their reunion, Burton wanted to surprise Taylor with a fabulous gift. He asked Bozzachi to have Bulgari open their doors early so that he could buy this sapphire and diamond ring, presenting it to Taylor the moment she woke. A few days later Taylor organized a photoshoot with Bozzacchi where she would model her new gift; it has been implied that she was using this occasion to signal her victory over Loren and that the ring symbolised her newly reignited relationship with Burton.
The story of this ring shows just how much jewellery was inextricably linked to all of her relationships and in many cases, were metaphors for her passions and attachments.
The House of Graff is a world-leading modern British Maison of exquisite jewels conjured from exceptional diamonds and precious coloured gemstones of extraordinary beauty and rarity. Family-owned and run, this new-generation heritage house was founded in 1960 by Laurence Graff, OBE, in London, and built on his unrivalled talents, unerring instincts, his indefatigable pursuit of perfection, and most of all on his personal passion for diamonds and deep affinity with gemstones.
Today, Laurence Graff remains the undisputed King of Diamonds, revered within the jewelry world for his foresighted leadership of the industry and his fearlessness in acquiring and fashioning some of the world’s most valuable diamonds. Amongst these are newly-discovered diamonds of monumental size, superlative quality and extreme rarity.
The Jewels of Lady Aspinall
Lady Sarah Aspinall (née Curzon), born in 1945, was the daughter of Francis Curzon, 5th Earl Howe (1884-1964) and five times British motor racing champion and winner of Le Man and Mille Miglia. The world of motor sport was a consistent theme in her life when in 1966 she went onto marry the racing driver Piers Courage (1942-1970) with whom she had two children.
Their wedding was a society highlight and is well remembered for the iconic image of Lady Aspinall with her veil being dramatically blown behind her in the wind. Sadly, Courage’s life prematurely came to an end in a devastating crash at the 1970 Dutch F1 Grand Prix, caused by an engine malfunction.
Life continued with her second husband John Aspinall (1926-2000), zoo owner and gambling host, whom she met through parties hosted at Aspinall’s house, Howletts. Her marriage saw her care not only for her children but for the exotic animals populating Howletts and Port Lympne, his two zoos. Aspinall passed away in 2000 from cancer. The Aspinall Foundation continues his work in the promotion of wildlife conservation.