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Her Gowns Go From Expensive to Priceless

September 05, 1997|Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Nearly 80 gowns worn by Princess Diana fetched more than $3 million at a charity auction earlier this year. Some say that with the princess' death, the gowns have skyrocketed into a price bracket reserved for legendary figures such as James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.

"I'm sure it will add to the value," said Louise Coffey-Webb, a costume historian who advises museums such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on how to preserve historical costumes. "I think it's going to have a little touch of the James Dean. Everything that James Dean wore is an absolute relic," Coffey-Webb said.

Christie's auctioned 79 Diana gowns and cocktail dresses in New York in June, raising nearly $3.26 million for AIDS and cancer charities in the first sale of royalty wear.

One dress worn by the princess when she danced with actor John Travolta at a White House dinner procured a record $222,500, far surpassing the $145,000 paid in 1995 for the white disco suit Travolta sweated in while dancing in the movie "Saturday Night Fever."

Each dress sold for an average $41,250.

Diana, her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, and their driver were killed in a car accident over the weekend in Paris.

The gowns will undoubtedly be worth more now, said Michael Kamins, associate business professor at UCLA. "That there is greater interest in the person in death maybe more so than in life. . . . There's a concept that, 'Gee, they're gone so what they have is worth more because it can't be supplied anymore,' " he said.

A Christie's spokeswoman declined comment on any matters related to Princess Diana.

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