“La Peregrina”, which has been depicted in various art works down the years, was bought for Taylor – who died in March 2011 – by her actor husband Richard Burton in 1969 for $37,000.
The sale of the pear-shaped white pearl – which boasts 203 grains, the equivalent of 50 carats – was the stand-out moment of the Christie’s auction, which took place in New York last Tuesday.
Estimated at $2-3 million, the pearl reached a world auction record price for a pearl at after just four and a half minutes of bidding.
The fascinating history of La Peregrina dates back to its discovery in the Gulf of Panama in the 16th century. One of its first recorded owners was King Philip II of Spain, before being passed on to the Spanish queens Margaret and Elisabeth, who wore the pearl in 17th century portraits painted by the legendary Spanish painter Velazquez.
The Evening Sale of legendary jewels from Elizabeth Taylor comprised 80 items in total, and was be followed by two day-sale sessions, with 190 more jewels on offer.