Princess Diana memorabilia: the most expensive items ever sold



2017-08-30 12:28:01

Princess Diana's extraordinary life produced extraordinary pieces of memorabilia.

It also created an army of collectors throughout the world eager to own a piece of her story.

Here are the most expensive Diana items ever sold – and you may notice a theme…

10. Diana's glitzy evening gown - $135,000

Image: Kerry Taylor Auctions

Image: Kerry Taylor Auctions

If Diana liked a dress, she would turn to it again and again.

Diana commissioned this sequinned, floor-length Catherine Walker creation in 1986. The shoulder-padded shimmerer made its debut at the state trip to Austria that same year and resurfaced regularly thereafter.

"It is unusually glitzy being entirely covered in shimmering sequins - more Hollywood glam than the sedate, elegant numbers she usually wore," said Kerry Taylor, following the dress' sale at Taylor's eponymous auction house in June 2016.

9. State tour of India, 1992 black dress - $144,000

Image: Julien

Image: Julien's

In 2011, Julien’s Auctions sold a black crepe evening gown Diana wore during her 1992 state tour of India.

The short-sleeved Catherine Walker dress featured diamante embroidery, inspired by Indian art motifs.

The tour was an emotionally difficult one for Diana, and featured the infamous moment when she snubbed a kiss from Charles at a polo match.

The would separate within a year.

8. ‘Second’ wedding dress - $155,000

Image: Flickr

Image: Flickr

You can't be too careful.

If disaster had struck Diana's wedding dress, this one would have stepped in at the last moment.

Diana wore the David and Elizabeth Emanuel-designed dress during fittings for the main one. It is identical to the original, which also featured St Mary’s lace sewn to the front panel.

The dress was used for Diana’s waxwork figure at Madame Tussaud's in London, and was sold alongside an exact replica of the princess' wedding tiara at Cooper Owen auction house in 2005.

Where's the one Diana wore on the big day? Her sons, William and Harry, own it. 

7. Back to the Future evening gown - $163,000

Image: Royal Fans

Image: Royal Fans

Diana wore this Catherine Walker-designed burgundy crushed velvet evening gown to the Back to the Future film premiere in 1985.

Diana also wore this dress when she visited Australia, coupling it with the Spencer tiara.

It sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in March 2013.

6. Palace de Versailles, 1994 dress - $163,000

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

Diana wore this black halter-neck, silk crepe dress to the Palace de Versailles for “La Deuxieme Nuit International de L’enfrance”, organised by UNESCO, in 1994.

Designed by Catherine Walker, it was trimmed at the neckline and one hip, with black round and bugle beads.

Diana brought the dress out of retirement for the now celebrated Mario Testino photo shoot that appeared in a 1997 issue of Vanity Fair. They were the last official photographs of Diana before her death that year.

It sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in March 2013.

5. Fairytale dress for James Bond premiere - $167,000

Image: Kerry Taylor Auctions

Image: Kerry Taylor Auctions

Adorned with gold panels, rhinestones and pearls, it's pure fairytale fantasy.

And it was one of Diana's favourite dresses.

After picking it out at a 1986 Red Cross benefit fashion show, she got good use out of it. Including at the German ambassador's house in London and the premiere of 1987 James Bond film The Living Daylights.

It's designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel – the same pair who created Diana's wedding dress – and is inspired by Leon Bakst's stage and costume designs for the Ballets Russes.

It sold to an overseas museum at Kerry Taylor Auctions in December 2013.

"It is a beautiful dress, worn by a beautiful woman and deserved to do well," said Taylor following the auction.

4. Harper's Bazaar dress - $200,000

Image: Harper

Image: Harper's Bazaar

Diana loved Gianni Versace's creations. And this figure-hugging number, lined on the inside with silk, was the first Versace designed for the princess.

She loved it so much she wore it in a 1991 photo shoot for her official photographer Patrick Demarchelier.

That shoot would resurface six years later, when Harper's Bazaar ran its "Diana A Tribute to a Princess" issue in November 1997.

It sold at Julien's in 2015.  

3. First official Royal appearance dress - $276,000

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

This is the black, off the shoulder, low cut dress worn by Diana on her first official appearance with her new fiancé, Prince Charles – at the Royal Opera House in 1981.

And while the Emanuel dress was not greeted favourably by Charles (he told Diana only people in mourning wore black), the world's press loved it.

Elizabeth Emanuel wrote in A Dress for Diana: "The transformation was incredible. She arrived looking like the nursery school teacher she was, but now she looked like a movie star.

"We gave her the dress, made a little shawl to go with it so she could cover up on the night and away she went.

"We hadn't considered the fact that when Diana bent over - as she would have to do when getting out of the car - she would show quite a lot of cleavage. We just thought she looked fabulous."

The dress was almost lost to history. It spent 20 years in a black bin liner in the Emanuels' garage.

It sold at Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2010. The buyer? A fashion museum in Chile.

2. 1992 tour of India dress - $350,000

Image: Kerry Taylor Auctions

Image: Kerry Taylor Auctions

Diana wore this sumptuous "lilac wild" gown and accompanying bolero on the 1992 state tour of India.

Creator Catherine Walker said it was "in perfect keeping with India's cultural standards".

It auctioned in 2011 at Kerry Taylor Auctions

1. The ‘Travolta Dress’ - $362,000

Image: New My Royals

Image: New My Royals

Diana wore the dark blue Victor Edelstein gown during her dance with John Travolta at a White House event hosted by Ronald Reagan in 1985.

Travolta recalled to Dutch TV channel Een: "I didn’t expect to dance with Princess Diana, and it was the president’s wife, Nancy Reagan, that said, 'It is her wish.'

"At midnight, I had to tap her on her shoulder, and I had to say, 'Would you care to dance?' She turned around and dipped her head in that Lady Diana way and we were off for 15 minutes' dancing. I’ll never forget it."

The dress was sold by Kerry Taylor Auctions in 2013.

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