- - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry sells for $115 million

Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection fetched a record-setting $115 million — including more than $11.8 million for a pearl necklace and more than $8.8 million for a diamond ring given to her by Richard Burton — at an auction of gems and other memorabilia amassed by the late actress.

The 33.19-carat diamond ring given to Taylor by the actor she married twice sold for $8,818,500.

The pearl, diamond and ruby necklace, known as “La Peregrina,” purchased at auction for $37,000 in 1969 by Burton for Taylor, reached the world record price of $11,842,500. It was estimated to sell for $2 million to $3 million. The price surpassed the previous auction record for pearls, set in 2007 at Christie’s auction house in New York City with the sale of the Baroda Pearls for $7,096,000.

The ring, estimated to sell for $2.5 million to $3.5 million, was included in a collection of Taylor’s necklaces, earrings, pendants and rings and other gems that went on sale Tuesday night at Christie’s in New York. The ring was purchased by a private buyer from Asia, according to a Christie’s spokesman.

Among the other high-profile items was a diamond bracelet given to the “National Velvet” and “Cleopatra” actress by singer Michael Jackson, with an estimated sale price of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $194,500. All prices include the buyer’s premium.

Taylor, a screen goddess who also starred in classics such as “Giant,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” died in Los Angeles in March at age 79. A jewelry lover, she had pieces from some of the most famous names in the jewelry world, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Chopard.

Judge says Lohan doing well on probation

A judge offered Lindsay Lohan something Wednesday that she hadn’t heard from a court in nearly two years: praise.

Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner said the actress was doing well under strict new terms of her probation and urged her to keep up the good work.

The starlet has completed 12 days at the county morgue and five therapy sessions since Nov. 2, when she was sentenced to a strict routine of community service and counseling after her latest probation violation.

“You’re doing well, and I’d like to see it continue,” Judge Sautner said during a 10-minute status hearing.

She also offered Miss Lohan an incentive to succeed, saying the actress could take leisure trips outside California after she completes a dozen days of morgue work a month.

The actress had permission from her probation officer to take a trip to Hawaii to celebrate her sister’s birthday. She returned just hours before the hearing.

Miss Lohan, 25, has drawn the repeated ire of judges for failing to complete counseling sessions and community service assignments on time. Judge Sautner made clear Wednesday that she believes Lohan’s new schedule — which requires the model and actress to appear in court monthly until March — is the reason for the turnaround.

The judge even hinted that Miss Lohan might end her supervised probation early if she works harder.

Miss Lohans appearance Wednesday came days before a Playboy issue featuring Lohan in a mostly nude pictorial hits newsstands.

Carla Bruni makes first post-baby appearance

French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has made her first public appearance since giving birth to a daughter in October.

Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy handed out presents to children at the traditional Christmas celebration at the Elysee presidential palace Wednesday. The first lady, dressed in a fringed beige poncho, did not have baby Giulia with her.

Born Oct. 19, Giulia Sarkozy is the first child born to a sitting French president.

Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy, a former supermodel and singer, and her husband, conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have remained coy about the baby.

Though gossip magazines splashed photos of Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy leaving the clinic with the baby on their covers, the first couple has yet to release an official photo of their daughter.

N.J. Nets owner fails to buy Russia media holding

The owner of the New Jersey Nets, who is running against Vladimir Putin in Russia’s presidential election, tried without success Wednesday to buy a leading media holding company in the country.

Mikhail Prokhorov, who is worth about $18 billion, according to Forbes magazine, announced his candidacy earlier this week for the March presidential election.

Mr. Prokhorov offered to buy Russia’s Kommersant publishing house, but its owner, Alisher Usmanov, said he doesn’t plan to sell it. He said that he instead offered to buy Mr. Prokhorov’s stake in the RBK media group, a competitor of Kommersant’s.

Mr. Usmanov, a metals magnate, bought Kommersant for $200 million in 2006. The holding company, which includes Russia’s top business daily and other publications, has since expanded into radio and television.

On Tuesday, Mr. Usmanov fired an editor and a senior manager after the Kommersant Vlast weekly published an article about alleged fraud in Russia’s Dec. 4 parliamentary election and a photo of a ballot containing vulgar words directed at Mr. Putin. The weekly’s editor, Maxim Kovalsky, said he was told that is why he was fired.

Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu shaves off his beard

New York City-based Hasidic reggae superstar Matisyahu (ma-tis-YAH’-hoo) is on a new religious path, but it’s unclear which one.

The Jewish singer shaved off his beard and posted the barefaced photos on Twitter. He says on his website that he once felt the need for lots of religious rules so he wouldn’t fall apart. Now he says he’s reclaiming himself.

But it’s unclear whether he’s leaving Orthodoxy. He says he’s still going to synagogue each day.

His spokeswoman says he isn’t giving interviews.

Matisyahu was a musical curiosity who became a mainstream star after his 2004 debut, “Shake Off the Dust … Arise.” He sported the bushy beard, flat-brimmed black hat, black pants and white shirt worn by Hasidic men.

His biggest single, “King Without a Crown,” was a crossover hit.

Hatch pursuing reality show on his children via sperm donations

Reality star Richard Hatch, who was freed this week from prison on a tax evasion sentence tied to his $1 million “Survivor” winnings, says he is hoping for a new reality show about his relationship with the children conceived from his sperm donations.

Hatch, 50, was released Monday from prison for violating the terms of his supervised release in the long-running case. Hatch maintains his innocence and says he does not owe money to the Internal Revenue Service.

Shortly before returning to prison in March, Hatch, who lives in Rhode Island, said he met a 22-year-old biological son who is living in New Jersey. Hatch said he met the man, whom he identified only as Devin, through the Sibling Donor Registry, which helps connect donors and children. They took a DNA test to confirm their genetic ties, he said.

Hatch said another biological child, whom he identified as a 22-year-old Maine named Emily, visited him in prison.

c Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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