In 1808, Spain was captured by Napoleon, and he placed upon the throne his brother Joseph, who took posession of the pearl. When the French were defeated at the Battle of Vitoria, it is believed that Joseph actually carried the pearl upon his fleeing the city of Madrid.
From there, the Pearl was given into the hands of Charles Louis Napoleon, who eventually sold it to the 2nd Marquess of Abercorn, in whose family it would remain for some years.
On two ocassions the pearl was very nearly lost by the wife of the Marquess. The first time was for a formal occasion at Buckingham Palace, when it was discovered missing from her necklace and was soon discovered having fallen on the train of another woman's gown. The second time it went missing was at Windsor Castle, where it was eventually found on a sofa.
In 1969 the pearl was put up for Auction at Sotheby's in London, where it was purchased for $37,000 by Richard Burton for his wife Elizabeth Taylor. Burton lavished jewels on Elizabeth, but especially enjoyed pieces with historical significance.
Not long after the purchase the pearl went missing again, much to the horror of Elizabeth, who concealed its dissapearance from her husband. After a quick search, she soon found the pearl in the mouth of one of her dogs - thankfully, the pearl was not damaged.
That same year, Elizabeth would wear the pearl for her small, unbilled role as a courtier in Anne of the Thousand Days, where it appears on a small platinum strand with several smaller pearls spaced throughout. Not long after this time, both Elizabeth and Richard agreed that the pearl needed a more secure and magnificent setting, and so it was given over to Cartier to create a fantastic necklace that would properly display the jewel.
The result was a glittering confection of diamonds and rubies, which Elizabeth later wore in Divorce His - Divorce Hers in 1973 and then again in 1977 in A Little Night Music.
The La Peregrina was then on display at the Cartier Boutique in Beverly Hills, on loan from Elizabeth Taylor for the 100th anniversary of Cartier in America. When Elizabeth Taylor passed away her jewelry was auctioned off at Christie's on Tuesday December 13th. You can find more information here. The necklace, expected to sell for two to three million dollars, wound up fetching a record 11.8 million.
To learn more about the history of this fantastic pearl, go here. Or for it's later history in the hands of Elizabeth Taylor, where it appeared in three films, read Elizabeth Taylors My Love Affair With Jewelry. No word yet on the buyer of the Pearl after the Elizabeth Taylor auction.