Elizabeth Taylor’s will – £500m fortune, eye-watering jewels and £1m given to ex

It has been 11 years since Hollywood icon and silver screen siren Dame Elizabeth Taylor died.

The film star died on March 23, 2011 at the age of 79 years old from congestive heart failure, with fans and fellow stars from the world of entertainment paying tribute to one of cinema's greatest actresses.

As well as being the star of huge films including Cleopatra, she was also a keen philanthropist and raised money for causes close to her heart.

When she died, it is reported that the actress left a huge fortune, and that her philanthropy work has carried on long after the star's death – even breaking a record in the process.

To remember the icon, Daily Star is launching a brand new series – Golden Icons – that will delve into the lives of some Hollywood greats.

Huge fortune

Elizabeth Taylor was one of Hollywood and cinema's biggest stars, appearing in hit films of the Golden era including The Taming Of The Shrew, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and Father Of The Bride.

She launched onto cinema screens at the age of 11 years old in the film Jane Eyre, before rocketing to fame in 1944's National Velvet.

However, one of her most famous roles was as Cleopatra in the 1960 film of the same name, with The Daily Express reporting that the star made an estimated £800,000 from the film alone.

As well as being a huge film star, Elizabeth was also one of the first celebrities to launch a perfume range with the high fashion brand Elizabeth Arden, aptly called Diamonds after her famous jewellery collection.

Elizabeth Taylor Diamonds launched in 1991, with Hollywood Reporter stating that it had generated over $1billion (£762m) in sales since it launch.

It is no surprise then that when Elizabeth Taylor died in 2011, it was reported that the Hollywood icon left an estimated and eye-watering fortune of £500million.

Family inheritance

A portion of Elizabeth Taylor's fortune was, of course, divided between her children and grandchildren.

The star was married eight times to stars including Conrad Hilton Jnr, Michael Wilding, Mike Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton, John W Warner and Larry Fortensky.

During this time Elizabeth had four children – Liza Todd, Maria Burton, Michael Wilding Jnr and Christopher Wilding – who were left the majority of her fortune and estate, with Vanity Fair reporting that they each stood to inherit £100m each.

She also became a grandmother to 10 grandchildren, who were also left a portion of her fortune and estate.

It was also reported that she left £1m to her ex-husband Larry Fortensky, who Elizabeth had been married to from 1991 to 1996.

Despite the huge fortune that the star left, the greatest gift she gave was the wisdom she imparted on her friends and family to act with kindness and stand up for others, with her son Christopher telling Vanity Fair that they were taught "to be expansive with compassion and generosity, to be open-minded and fair".

He added: "She taught this entirely by example.

"She was absolutely fearless in standing up, without hesitation, for those she felt were being treated unfairly, whether it was a close friend, a crew member on one of her films, or an entire class of people."

Record breaking sale

Along with her huge fortune, Elizabeth Taylor also had millions of pounds worth of items left in her estate, including her magnificent collection of jewellery.

The Hollywood starlet was never seen without her jewels, with Elizabeth known to have diamonds and emeralds from famous brands including Cartier.

Not just this, but her collection contained one of the most famous pieces of jewellery in the world – a 16th century Le Peregrina natural pearl necklace.

Elizabeth had worn the famous necklace on one of her wedding days, but before she owned it, it had gained fame throughout the globe.

It was depicted in artwork for centuries and was once painted by 17th Century Spanish artist Velazquez, and was also owned by royalty including Mary Tudor.

However, it came into Elizabeth's possession when her ex-husband Richard Burton bought it as a gift for the actress, at the high sum of £23,800.

When it was sold following Elizabeth's death, it fetched over £10m at auction – making it the most expensive pearl necklace ever sold, and breaking a world record in the process.

It was not the only famous piece in her collection to be sold at the auction, with other items bought for the star by Richard Burton selling for a pricey sum.

These included the Taj Mahal diamond, a present from Burton for Elizabeth's 40th birthday, which again broke a record for the highest ever price of an Indian jewel, selling for £5.7m.

One buyer also paid £387,000 for a diamond and sapphire ring given to the actress by her close friend Michael Jackson.

Another item in her collection, a brooch, also sold at the same auction for over £6m.

In total, the auction at Christies in London raked in a gigantic £145m, with Christies auctioneer Marc Porter telling the BBC it was "one of the most extraordinary sales" they had ever held, calling it "a testament to the love of Elizabeth Taylor worldwide".

Charity donations

The majority of the record breaking sale amount at Christies was donated to Elizabeth Taylor's AIDS Foundation (ETAF), which the star helped to found in 1991.

Elizabeth had become one of the first high profile celebrities to become involved in the AIDS project in Los Angeles during the 80s, with CNN reporting that the star became even more commitment to her charity work around the disease, following the death of her friend and fellow actor Rock Hudson from the disease in 1986.

She later founded the ETAF, focused on providing direct services for people living with AIDS and funding to AIDS service organisations.

The website states that the ETAF "pursues social justice and human rights for people with HIV/AIDS through three areas of focus", which include Direct Care and Prevention, Advocacy and Education and Fundraising and Stewardship.

Since Elizabeth's death, the foundation has held a number of fundraising events in the star's memory, including a an art auction in 2014, which raised over $300,000 and was organised by Elizabeth's granddaughter Naomi Wilding.

Talking about Elizabeth's legacy, The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) told CNN: "Today, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community lost an extraordinary ally in the movement for full equality.

"At a time when so many living with HIV/AIDS were invisible, Dame Taylor fearlessly raised her voice to speak out against injustice. Dame Taylor was an icon not only in Hollywood, but in the LGBT community where she worked to ensure that everyone was treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve."

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