Elizabeth Taylor Collection
What could better precede soup and a trio of salads than a peek at Elizabeth Taylor’s famous jewels, fashions and paintings? Supporters of the Melanoma Research Alliance got to experience exactly that on Oct. 11, when MRA co-founder Debra Black and Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, co-hosted a luncheon at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Pacific Design Center, where Taylor’s treasures were on display until Oct. 16. They will be sold at a Christie’s auction in New York this December.
According to Porter, worldwide interest in the Elizabeth Taylor collection is such that six thousand people came to a Moscow viewing over a two day period. In Los Angeles, additional tickets and hours were added to accommodate the high demand.
”The fable is that the jewels were all gifts,” Porter said of the baubles, which include a 33.19 carat diamond ring, valued at $2.5-$3.5 million, which Taylor wore almost daily. “But the more you look at them, the more you realize how serious and discerning (Taylor) was about her collection. You can see the consistency in the selection.”
But it was Taylor’s philanthropy that precipitated Tuesday’s luncheon. “It’s appropriate that we honor the Melanoma Research Alliance against the backdrop of highlights from the collection of Miss Elizabeth Taylor,” he said. Porter called Taylor a “dauntless activist,” who helped fight AIDS in the same way, he said, Debra Black and her husband, Leon Black, are helping to change the world for everyone with melanoma or at risk for this dangerous form of skin cancer.
In remarks, co-host Maria Bell talked of her three bouts with the disease, happily noting the precautions taken by lunch guests, who scrambled upon taking their seats to insure their faces were shaded by umbrellas. “We always used to sit in the sun and we always used to worship it,” Bell said. “Now most people want to sit in the shade.”
And lest anyone forget the importance of sun protection, a package of sunscreen sat on each table, just beside the salt and pepper.
Said Debra Black, a survivor, “It’s about awareness, better detection and research. Our mission is to fund research so people don’t have to suffer and die from this disease.” Black is a Broadway producer, whose productions include “The History Boys,” ‘August: Osage County,” “Frost/Nixon” and “Thurgood.”
Aside from the jewels, exhibition highlights also include Andy Warhol’s iconic portrait of Taylor; a Versace evening jacket, completely beaded with images of the actress’s face, worn to a Freddie Mercury tribute for AIDS awareness; and a Tiziani velvet evening cape worn to Princess Grace of Monaco’s 40th birthday ball. It is noted that Karl Lagerfeld free-lanced for the Roman designer Titziani at the time the cape was made.
Other co-hosts were actress Jami Gertz, Beth Friedman, Susan Hess, Kelly Fisher Katz, Susie Krevoy, Nancy Marks, Leslie McMorrow, Carolyn Powers, Alison, Ressler, Tawny Sanders and Sheryl Sokoloff. More guests were Donna Dixon, Katherine Ross, Ghada Irani, Wendy Stark, Katie Traina, Nina Carroll, Carla Sands, Kathleen Rosenbloom, Nancy Davis, Lynn Palmer and Caroline Kimmel. Speakers also included Roger Lo, M.D., Ph.D., of UCLA.
Photos from top: View of guests previewing the Elizabeth Taylor collection; from left: Caroline Kimmel, Debra Black, Jami Gertz and Samantha Essler; Elizabeth Taylor’s 33.19 carat diamond ring (photo: Alexandra Wyman/WireImage)
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Published Oct. 12, 2011 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA