Ten dresses that were originally sold for charity by Princess Diana herself in 1997 — two months before she died — are up for auction again today. They were previously owned by Florida businesswoman Maureen Dunkel, who at the height of her prosperity assembled what is arguably the best collection of the late princess’s wardrobe. Dunkel subsequently went bankrupt in 2011 and tried to liquidate the wardrobe through Kerry Taylor, a London-based auction house, but only four dresses sold, and Kerry Taylor wound up having to buy the rest from Dunkel for a much higher price than they’d have liked. “That sale was a bit of a disaster,” a Kerry Taylor spokeswoman told the Telegraph. “But they are beautiful dresses.” They hope to recoup those losses with this auction.
The ten dresses include many of Princess Diana’s favorite designers, including Catherine Walker, Zandra Rhodes, Victor Edelstein, Jacques Azagury, and Bruce Oldfield — notably, several designers that are still favored by Kate Middleton today. Perhaps the most exciting dress is a navy blue velvet gown by Victor Edelstein that Diana wore to a State Dinner at the White House in 1985, where she danced with John Travolta.
Above, from left: a Victor Edelstein midnight-blue velvet evening gown worn to the State dinner at the White House in 1985 (estimated price: £200,000–£300,000), a Catherine Walker green sequined evening gown, worn for the State visit to Austria in 1989 (£30,000–£50,000), and a Catherine Walker black velvet evening gown, worn for the Vanity Fair photo shoot by Mario Testino at Kensington Palace in 1997 (£50,000–£70,000).
From left: a Zandra Rhodes white chiffon dress, worn to the Birthright benefit in London in 1987 (estimated price: £30,00 to £40,000), a Catherine Walker pink silk gown and bolero, made for the State visit to India in 1992 (£80,00 to £120,000), and a Catherine Walker pink sequined gown, worn on a State visit to Brazil in 1991 (£40,00 to £60,000).
A Victor Edelstein green velvet gown (estimated price: £20,000–£30,000), a Catherine Walker burgundy velvet dress and embroidered tailcoat, worn for a State visit to Korea in 1992 (£40,000–£60,000), a Bruce Oldfield black velvet evening gown, worn for an official portrait by Lord Snowdon (£30,000–£50,000), and a Catherine Walker burgundy crushed velvet evening gown, worn for a State visit to Australia and to the film premiere of Back to the Future in 1985 (£40,000–£50,000).
Update: All of the dresses sold for a total of 800,000 pounds ($1.2 million) today, the AP reports. The most expensive piece, as predicted, was the dress she wore to dance with John Travolta, which went for $360,000.