Three months before her death in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, auctioned off 79 of her dresses at the suggestion of her eldest son, William. The auction was overseen by Christie's of New York City and the proceeds were used to benefit the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund and the AIDS Crisis Trust. The auction raised $3.26 million, and the "star" of the show was a dark blue velvet gown designed by Victor Edelstein and worn by the princess on four different occasions, including at a 1985 White House reception held by the Reagans where Princess Diana danced with none other than John Travolta. Back then the dress fetched an astounding £133,835.
The dark blue velvet Eldestein gown, along with 13 others, were purchased at the 1997 auction by a woman from Tampa named Maureen Rorech Dunkel. After Princess Diana's death a mere three months later, Ms. Dunkel decided to set up a charitable organization with the goal to display the dresses all over the world in order to raise money for other charitable entities. Unfortunately, by 2011, Ms. Dunkel's charitable organization was bankrupt and had to auction all 14 dresses in order to raise cash to pay off creditors. The auction was held in June 2011 in Toronto at Waddington's and raised about $3 million, which was $1 million under the pre-auction estimates.
Almost two years later, 10 of the dresses originally purchased by Ms. Dunkel in 1997, including the dark blue velvet Edelstein gown, are being auctioned off, yet again, this time by Kerry Taylor Auctions of London. On this go around the pre-auction estimate is that the dresses will raise £600,000, or only about $900,000 USD. The dresses can be viewed beginning on Sunday, March 17, at 249-253 Long Lane, Bermondsey, London, SE1 4PR, and the auction will be held on Tuesday, March 19.
- Diana Forever: The Dresses Auction (1997)
- Dreams for Princess Diana's gowns die in bankruptcy (2011)
- Buyers pay millions for Diana's dresses (2011)
- Princess Diana's dresses set to raise over £600,000 at auction (2013)
- Princess Diana Dress Auction Information (2013)
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