The garments sold on Friday as part of Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies’ Presents “Legends: Hollywood and Royalty"
Three of Princess Diana’s gowns sold at auction on Friday for approximately $1.62 million (£1.3 million) in total.
The garments worn by the former Princess of Wales before her untimely death at age 36 following a car crash in Paris in 1997 were among the 1,400 items up for auction at Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies Presents “Legends: Hollywood and Royalty,” which was held from Wednesday to Friday in Beverly Hills and online.
The three items sold were a scarlet red silk Bruce Oldfield gown and two designs by Catherine Walker: a black silk velvet and white silk crepe strapless gown and an off-the-shoulder black faille bodice and a draped jade silk skirt.
Worn by Princess Diana to the premiere of the film Hot Shots! starring Charlie Sheen in November 1991, the short-sleeved ruched Bruce Oldfield dress went for $571,500 (£458,480) when it was initially estimated to go for $200,000 (£160,450), according to Daily Mail.
The black and jade Catherine Walker design with a minimum purchase price of $100,000 (£80,220) — which was worn by the princess to a gala dinner at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Canada, in 1991 — was bought for $571,500 (£458,484), per Daily Mail.
The outlet also reported that the black and white Catherine Walker dress Diana wore to a private event sold for over eight times its estimated sale of $60,000 (£48,130) for a whopping $508,00 (£407,540).
“Our record-breaking sale of these gowns exceeded all expectations,” said Martin Nolan, the founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions, per Daily Mail.
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According to the publication, Ellen Petho — a businesswoman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who “ran a successful design business” for a decade before she died at age 82 in January 2023 — originally bought the gowns, along with two others worn by Diana, at an auction held at Christie’s auction house in New York in June 1997 with money she saved to purchase a home.
Ellen’s husband Louis Petho, 83, sold the dresses for auction “to help raise money for a scholarship fund for mature art and design students,” the Daily Mail reported.
Ellen’s daughter, Karrie Petho, 60, told the outlet of her mother’s decision to show the gowns to the public for charitable reasons before her death: “‘Our mother read the inscription inside [the auction catalogue] 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. I think that's what inspired her.’”
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