10 Extraordinary Facts About The $9 Million Dollar Pearl Richard Burton Gave Elizabeth Taylor
December 27, 2017 10:52 By Fabiosa
Elizabeth Taylor was a Hollywood icon whose private and professional life was always in the spotlight. With decades of acting under her belt, it is not surprising that in 1999, she was named the seventh greatest female screen legend by the American Film Institute.
The fact that she was married eight times was enough to earn hundreds of negative press comments and the public's disapproval. But none of the marriages was as scandalous as the passionate love affair she had with Richard Burton. Why? Well, it was mainly due to the fact that they were both married to other people when their relationship began.
During the filming of Cleopatra in 1962, rumors about the both of them, who were co-stars in the movie, began circulating.
Some paparazzi photos showed them lounging on a yacht in Ischia. Eventually, they were both divorced from their respective spouses and got married to each other.
Of the many scandalous and extraordinary things that happened in their marriage, one of the most talked-about was the gift of the La Peregrina – the most perfect natural pearl the planet has seen - that Burton gave to his lady. It was and still is a fascinating piece of heirloom. Let's take a look at some interesting facts that make it so.
1. The 50-carat jewelry was reportedly found by African slaves in the Pearl Islands in the Gulf of Panama during the 16th Century.
2. Its name, La Peregrina, literally means 'The Wanderer' because it has an unfortunate tendency of vanishing. In fact, it once disappeared when Taylor wore it to attend the Burtons’ suite at Caesar’s Palace. “I reached down to touch La Peregrina and it wasn’t there!” the star wrote in Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry.
3. The pearl first landed in the hands of Spanish administrator of Panama and was taken to Spain. Later on, it was given to the future Philip II of Spain. It was eventually passed down the line royalty, which meant it was in the possession of Spain’s Philip II, Philip III, Philip IV, Charles II, Philip V, Fernando VI, Charles III and Carlos IV. Joseph Bonaparte was its next possessor after this, then France’s Prince Louis Napoleon, the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn and finally, Taylor.
4. Philip II reportedly gave the pearl to Mary Tudor while he was courting her for marriage. When she died in 1558, it was returned to Spain, where it remained a part of her Crown jewels for 250 years.
5. The pearl was very much enjoyed by the Spanish queens. Philip III's wife, for instance, wore it during the celebration of the peace treaty between Spain and England in 1605.
6. Joseph Bonaparte, who was the king of Spain for five years, was eventually forced to leave the kingdom. He willed the pearl and other treasures to his nephew, future Napoleon III of France.
7. Napoleon sold it to James Hamilton, Marquess and later Duke of Abercorn. The Duke's wife nearly lost it twice while it was in her possession.
8. Burton acquired the gem at a Sotheby's auction in London in 1969. He paid $48,000 for it and gave it to Taylor as Valentine's day gift.
9. It was eventually resold in 2011 after Taylor passed. It fetched $11,842,500 at the time.
10. Today, no one has a definite idea where the pearl is, but there are sources who believe it currently belongs to a billionaire in the Middle East.
Clearly, this is one piece of jewellery that has had a colorful past. The fact that the great Elizabeth Taylor once wore it is only a part of its charm.