Elizabeth Taylor: Savvy, Steely-Eyed Business Woman


Though it is unclear what Taylor received from her perfume sales, the $200 million sales estimate is a sign of Taylor's iconic status, said Clare Hendrix, intellectual property licensing executive and legal counsel with CMG Worldwide, which represents the estates of deceased legends Marilyn Monroe and Babe Ruth.

"I don't think it gets bigger than that. That is pretty successful," said Hendrix. "Now we'll probably see a rise in sales of her perfumes."

Hendrix estimated that celebrity perfume deals range in "high six figures, if not seven figures" for living and decreased celebrities, depending on their popularity.

Charitable Work in the Fight Against AIDS

In a tribute to her on its website, Elizabeth Arden said it will continue to sell her perfumes.

"White Diamonds remains a best seller almost 20 years after its 1991 introduction, a testimony to her transcendent and enduring appeal," said Elizabeth Arden chief executive officer, E. Scott Beattie, in a statement. "Our best tribute to Elizabeth Taylor will be to continue the legacy of the brands she created and loved so much."

On the question of what could happen to her estate now that she has passed away, many speculate it will be distributed to her four children and 10 grandchildren.

"We presume that with her estate, she would have at least one, probably several trusts set up," said Danielle Mayoras, an estate planning and elder law attorney who co-authored with her husband, Andy, Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights. "But even with celebrities with enormous wealth, sometimes they don't have wills."

Unlike trusts for the most part, wills must be carried out through probate courts.

"For trusts, everything is handled in private, without the expense of probate courts," said Andy Mayoras, a probate litigator.

Mann said Taylor had positive relationships with her children and grandchildren. He said he predicts a smooth estate distribution process.

"By Hollywood standards, it was a terrific relationship," Mann said. "They all seemed to love and respect her. She had a lot of grandchildren to dote upon. For all her globe-trotting, Elizabeth turned out to be a really great mother."

And Taylor most likely bequeathed a substantial amount of money to her charitable work.

"She always lived rather opulently. She spent her money in that way," said Mann. "But she always made time to give her money to charity too."

Taylor was a devoted AIDS activist, helping form the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985 and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991.

In a 1999 interview with Barbara Walters, Taylor explained her deep longing was to do more work to fight AIDS despite her physical ailments.

"I would give up movies in a second to be healthy enough and well enough to work for AIDS," Taylor said.

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