Late actress Elizabeth Taylor’s artwork sold for far more than expected when her unsigned Vincent Van Gogh piece “Vue de l’Asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy” sold for $16 million at an impressionist/modern art auction held at Christie’s International in London.
The $16 million purchase price was double the painting’s estimate and was sold to a mystery buyer. Taylor purchased the Van Gogh painting in 1963 and kept it all her life, hanging it above her mantle, according to the auction house.
“The idealistic, optimistic nature of Van Gogh I think she liked,” Giovanna Bertazzoni, of Christie’s, said of Taylor. “She was profoundly like that. She was actually a very positive person.”
The Oscar-winning actress and beauty icon who passed away in March at the age of 79 had acquired a fantastic collection of artwork created by artists like Van Gogh, Pissarro and Degas throughout her legendary career.
The “Cleopatra” star’s love of art was said to come from her father, Francis, a successful art dealer who owned a London gallery. While the spectacular jewels and baubles for which Taylor was known were often bought for her by admirers, when it came to art, Taylor, a passionate and canny collector, bought for herself.
“These were the pictures, this was the private life,” Bertazzoni told ABC News. “This was not the high-wattage that we saw when she went out, when she went to the Oscars. This is what she lived with.”
Another painting from Taylor’s collection, “Pommiers à Éragny” by Camille Pissarro, also more than doubled its estimated price and sold for $4.6 million. A third, “Autoportait,” by Edgar Degas was estimated to sell for $500,000 but sold instead for $1.1 million.
The works were sold on the first day of a two-day auction of Taylor’s collection. Today, Christie’s will sell an additional 35 pieces from the actress’s collection, including the works of artists like Renoir, Miro and Magritte.
It’s not surprising that the sale of Taylor’s art collection was such a success.
A sale last December by Christie’s in New York of Taylor’s personal items of clothing and jewelry did very well for the auction house, raking in over $100 million.
Like with that sale, a portion of the art sale’s proceeds will be donated to the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, Christie’s said.
ABC News’ Nick Watt and the Associated Press contributed to this report.