Call it an investment piece.
Three of the late Princess Diana’s gowns sold at auction Friday for a sum of roughly $1.62 million (approximately AED 5.9 million)—what some might consider a prince(ss)ly fee. The dresses were among 1,400 items in an auction event last week, Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies Presents “Legends: Hollywood and Royalty.”
“Our record-breaking sale of these gowns exceeded all expectations,” Martin Nolan, the founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions, told the Daily Mail.
Before the auction, the gowns had been in the collection of Michigan businesswoman Ellen Petho, who purchased them at auction from Christie’s in 1997, two months before Diana’s death. Petho used money she had been saving to buy a house for the dresses. Petho died in January 2023, and her family, per the Daily Mail, auctioned them with proceeds to benefit mature art students’ education.
Her daughter, Karrie Petho, said that her mother had displayed the dresses for the public before her death, raising over $1 million for charity.
“Our mother read the inscription inside [the auction catalog] about Prince William telling his mother that the dresses shouldn’t sit in her closet; that they should be out in the world and doing good,” she said. “I think that’s what inspired her.”
A red silk gown designed by Bruce Oldfield was worn by Diana at the November 1991 premiere of Hot Shots, starring Charlie Sheen. It sold for $571,500, almost three times the $200,000 pre-auction estimate set by the house.
The second gown sold was worn by the late Princess of Wales to a 1991 gala dinner in Toronto. It’s a black and jade off-the-shoulder number, designed by Catherine Walker, and sold for $571,500.
The third dress was also designed by Walker: a black and white gown Diana wore to a private event. It sold for $508,000.
Ellen Petho originally purchased the dresses for $150,000.
Originally published in Vanityfair.com
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