Elizabeth Taylor Fortune A Bequest to AIDS Groups
In life, Elizabeth Taylor was known for her love of exquisite jewelry and her support of the GLBT community through her AIDS activist. In death, the star’s two interests seem about to converge: Taylor’s jewelry is set for auction, with the lion’s share of the funds generated earmarked for amfAR--an AIDS organization she helped start--as well as for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, reported the New York Post on March 25.
The article cited Chicago news channel WFLD/Fox TV, and said that the full extent of Taylor’s fortune--amassed through her film work, investments, and sales of her perfume brand, among other sources of revenue--could exceed $1 billion. Her jewelry collection alone was reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars--$150 million as of nine years ago, perhaps more now.
By comparison, her AIDS charity was working with small change. "Records show that the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation, which has raised millions over the years, has a net fund balance of about $750,000," the New York Post article said. "The charity took in $257,000 in 2009 and gave out $187,000 to health causes. The charity took in $463,000 the previous year and gave out $931,000.
"Dame Elizabeth was without doubt one of the most inspirational figures in the fight against AIDS," text posted at amfAR’s website said. "She was among the first to speak out on behalf of people living with HIV when others reacted with fear and often outright hostility.
"For 25 years, Dame Elizabeth has been a passionate advocate of AIDS research, treatment and care," text at the amfAR site continued. "She has testified eloquently on Capitol Hill, while raising millions of dollars for amfAR. Dame Elizabeth’s compassion, radiance, and generosity of spirit will be greatly missed by us all. She leaves a monumental legacy that has improved and extended millions of lives and will enrich countless more for generations to come."
"The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) was established by Elizabeth Taylor in 1991 to raise funds and awareness to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, and to provide assistance for those living with the virus," the Mission Statement of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation says. "With its focus on direct care and prevention education, ETAF provides funding to AIDS organizations throughout the world, providing support services to populations in need."
Taylor herself "personally [underwrote] all costs for raising and administering the Foundation’s funds, allowing 100% of all donations received to be put to work serving people with HIV/AIDS," the Mission Statement added.
"I’ve had the lowest valleys, the highest highs," Taylor said in a 1997 video clip of an interview with Barbara Walters posted by ABC News on March 23. "I’m like a living example of what people can go through and survive." The interview was conducted at about the time of Taylor’s 65th birthday, shortly before the star announced that she had a benign brain tumor. Taylor’s health news became public knowledge before the segment aired.
"Elizabeth, you have said that your career doesn’t matter to you very much now," Walters noted in the interview. "That your focus is AIDS."
"It really is," Taylor responded. "Mind you, I think my career isn’t... sort of... a focal point in anybody else’s mind, either. I don’t think I could get a job if I wanted one!"
Despite her words, Taylor did continue to work on stage, in film, and on television, with her final filmed roles--a TV movie and an appearance on a television program--in 2001. But her role as an angel to people living with HIV and AIDS was one she carried out until the end of her life--and now, with news of the bequest, beyond it.