Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton Carelessly Spent Their Hollywood Earnings on a Very Luxurious Life

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Elizabeth Taylor’s romance with Richard Burton will always be one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories that was fraught with drama and tabloid headlines. The couple lived, loved, and played hard during their years together, which included two marriages.

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Roger Lewis’ upcoming book, Erotic Vagrancy: Everything about Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, explores how the “supercharged” couple lived in their own fantasy world that was filled with excess. It was easy for them to spend every dollar they earned from their generous entrainment industry salaries on everything from fancy vacation to stunning jewelry for Taylor’s massive collection. According to an excerpt obtained by Page Six, the dynamic duo traveled with an entourage of “secretaries, makeup artists, housekeepers, a house photographer, tutors, bodyguards, nurses, business managers, chauffeurs, butlers, and even suitcase-packers.

006911 01: Actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor stand next to each other February 1, 1974 in Switzerland. Oscar winner Taylor made several relatively obscure movies in Europe, including "X, Y and Zee", "Ash Wednesday" and "The Driver's Seat", while conducting a turbulent affair with Burton. (Photo by Liaison)
Actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor stand next to each other February 1, 1974 in Switzerland.

Those “suitcase-packers” had their work cut out for them because one trip to the Taormina Film Festival in 1967 involved 156 pieces of luggage — and don’t get us started on the laundry and dry-cleaning after that trip. It wasn’t unusual for them to occupy 21 rooms at the Hotel Lancaster in Paris where their “pet dogs accompanied the humans into restaurants, and had to be fed from the menu.” When Burton was filming Where Eagles Land in London in 1968, he wanted his four dogs nearby, but the U.K.’s pet quarantine laws were quite strict. The actor decided to dodge the restrictions by getting his furry friends their own boat and moored it near Tower Bridge. Problem solved!

The couple’s extravagant spending went right along with their party-hard mentality, which led to a very tumultuous relationship. But, there was always jewelry to make up for their last fight. “I had only recently given [Elizabeth] a £127,000 diamond ring simply because it was a Tuesday,” Burton famously wrote in his diary in 1968. According to Lewis, the couple spent $800,000 in 1969 for their staff alone — today, that would be the equivalent of over $6 million today.

Whenever money came into their lives, like after the box-office success of their movie, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, they would quickly spend it. Taylor received a $4 million bonus on top of her $1.1 million salary, but she swiftly found the artwork to buy — we are talking about Monet, Picasso, and Renoir. The couple’s thirst for living large and Burton’s need to constantly please his wife with extravagant jewels almost bankrupted him.

A memo from Burton’s estate, via Express, shows just how dire the state of his finances were when he attempted to buy a diamond necklace for Taylor in 1970. “There is not sufficient money in the coffers to pay for the jewels,” the Welsh actor’s secretary wrote. “Over the past two years, the out-flow of money has greatly exceeded in-flow. At the moment, such a purchase is unthinkable.” It was the perfect summation of Burton and Taylor’s romance, they lived large until all of that excess caught up with them.

Before you go, click here to see every man Elizabeth Taylor dated or married below:

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton

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