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Celebrity

Jeweler Recalls Selling Krupp Diamond to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

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Express Newspapers/Hulton Archive/Getty

Some men say “I love you,” with chocolate. Others send flowers. And in 1968, Richard Burton famously bought Elizabeth Taylor the 33-carat Krupp diamond. “She loved big stones and they really suited her personality,” explains jeweler Ward Landrigan, who negotiated the sale when he was the head of the Sotheby’s jewelry department. As a young man, he was tasked with delivering the bauble to Burton and Taylor — and spent several days with them until the insurance came through. “I remember the morning I brought her the Krupp diamond, [Burton] answered the door,” he recalls, adding that when he knocked at 7 a.m., the actor was still in his pajamas. “He opened the box and said, ‘Elizabeth!’ She came running out of the bedroom in her nightgown.” As Burton presented Taylor with the stone, Landrigan says she exclaimed, “Oh s—t!” and tackled her then-husband. “She gave him a huge kiss,” Landrigan says. “In fact, it was so big they knocked the lamp off the table next to the sofa! She gave him a couple of big kisses [and squealed], ‘Oh Richard, I love it! I love it!'” And though she cherished the giant gem, she was willing to share, says Landrigan, who recalls watching a busload of schoolgirls gawk at Taylor and Burton as they lunched after a day on a film set. “Elizabeth called the manager in and said, ‘If you give the girls something to write on and send them in two at a time, I’ll autograph something for them,'” he says. “There must’ve been 50 of them and she let every one of them try on the ring, which of course gave me a heart attack, and it was amazing.” —Lesley Messer

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