A massive collection of jewelry, gowns and artwork owned by the late Elizabeth Taylor has sold for $156.6 million — several million more than appraisers had expected. 


The actress, who died in March at the age of 79, left behind an estate estimated at more than $1 billion. Last week's sale through Christie's in New York listed 1,778 lots and more than 57,000 bids. Several records were shattered in the process, including "most valuable jewel sale in history" and "most valuable collection of fashion sold at auction." According to the Daily Mail, five items sold for more than $5 million and 26 items went for more than $1 million.


A portion of the profits from the auction will benefit Taylor's AIDS foundation, for which she was a fierce advocate. 


“I decided that with my name I could open certain doors, that I was a commodity in myself — and I’m not talking as an actress," she said. "I could take the fame I’d resented and tried to get away from for so many years — but you can never get away from it — and use it to do some good. I wanted to retire, but the tabloids wouldn’t let me. So I thought, if you’re going to screw me over, I’ll use you.”


It's estimated that by 1999, Taylor's efforts helped raise more than $50 million for the fight against AIDS.


Chris Wilding, son of the late actress, commented on the success of the auction saying, "My mother always acknowledged that she was merely the temporary custodian of the incredible things she owned."


"Today, I think she would be happy to know that her collections will continue to enrich the lives of those who have acquired pieces. My family is proud that our mother’s legacy as a celebrated actress, tireless AIDS activist, and accomplished businesswoman touched so many people’s lives that they wanted to have a part of it for themselves."

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Elizabeth Taylor auction raises record $156.6M
Portion of the profits will benefit the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.