Princess Diana’s Iconic Gowns Fetch $1.62 Million At Auction

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By Black Widow

In a poignant display of adoration for the late Princess Diana, three of her iconic gowns were auctioned off, collectively fetching approximately $1.62 million (£1.3 million). These exquisite garments, which once graced the graceful silhouette of the former Princess of Wales, found new homes among ardent admirers during the Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies Presents Legends: Hollywood and Royalty event in Beverly Hills and online. This remarkable auction featured a diverse array of 1,400 items and unfolded over three days, culminating in a celebration of Princess Diana’s timeless elegance.

The Gowns That Captivated Hearts

The three captivating gowns that captured the hearts of bidders and enthusiasts alike were an embodiment of Princess Diana’s grace and style. These gowns, worn by her before her untimely demise in a car crash in Paris in 1997, held both historical and sentimental significance.

The Scarlet Elegance by Bruce Oldfield

Among the trio, the scarlet red silk gown by Bruce Oldfield stood as a radiant testament to Princess Diana’s unparalleled fashion sensibility. She donned this short-sleeved ruched masterpiece when attending the premiere of the film Hot Shots! alongside actor Charlie Sheen in November 1991. The gown exceeded expectations by commanding an astonishing $571,500 (£458,480) at auction, surpassing its initial estimate of $200,000 (£160,450).

Princess Diana

Catherine Walker’s Black and Jade Marvel

The gala dinner at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Canada, in 1991 witnessed Princess Diana in all her regal glory, clad in a black silk velvet and white silk crepe strapless gown by Catherine Walker. This captivating ensemble, initially listed with a minimum price of $100,000 (£80,220), resonated deeply with bidders and was secured for $571,500 (£458,484).

A Monochrome Beauty by Catherine Walker

Another enchanting creation by Catherine Walker, a black and white gown, worn by Diana during a private event, cast its spell on collectors. This gown achieved an awe-inspiring price of $508,000 (£407,540), astonishingly surpassing its estimated value of $60,000 (£48,130).

A Heartfelt Tribute to Princess Diana

Martin Nolan, the founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions, expressed profound delight, stating, “Our record-breaking sale of these gowns exceeded all expectations.” The auction was not just a celebration of iconic fashion but also a tribute to Princess Diana’s enduring legacy.

The gowns’ remarkable journey from the collection of Ellen Petho, a visionary businesswoman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who acquired them at a Christie’s auction in New York in June 1997, added an emotional layer to the event. Ellen’s husband, Louis Petho, decided to part with these treasures in order to establish a scholarship fund for mature art and design students, following Ellen’s passing in January 2023.

Ellen’s daughter, Karrie Petho, shared her mother’s compassionate motivation for showcasing these gowns, stating, “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. I think that’s what inspired her.”

The auction not only celebrated the enduring charm of Princess Diana’s fashion but also honored the spirit of charity and generosity that she personified throughout her life.

The auction of Princess Diana’s cherished gowns, each carrying a piece of her elegant legacy, is a testament to the enduring fascination with her unparalleled style. It reaffirms her position as a beloved fashion icon and symbol of grace and compassion. As these gowns find new homes, they continue to inspire and contribute to the well-being of future generations through the establishment of a scholarship fund—a beautiful reflection of Princess Diana’s enduring spirit of goodwill and charity.