£268k for Audrey Hepburn's iconic wardrobe

A packed saleroom saw more than 40 items from Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe sell for £268,320 on Tuesday, December 8, 2009 in a sale at Kerry Taylor Auctions in London.

The collection was sold by Tanja Star-Busmann, a life-long friend of Audrey's and 50% of the net sale proceeds of lots will be donated go to The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund.

Hepburn's dress from How to Steal a Million, 1966 (£60k
Hepburn's dress from How to Steal
a Million, 1966 (£60k)

"The collection made double the pre-sale estimate of £100,000," said auctioneer Kerry Taylor.

"Tanja is pleased that all these lovely clothes and accessories that she has treasured for so many years will go to collectors and museums throughout the world. It has been a privilege to handle this collection, the like of which will never be seen again."

The highest price of the sale was paid for a sensational Chantilly lace cocktail gown by Givenchy which Audrey Hepburn wore in How to Steal a Million in 1966. This sold for £60,000 against estimate of £15,000-20,000, purchased by an anonymous bidder.

The second highest price was paid for another piece by Givenchy; a turquoise cloche silk cocktail gown, from the Autumn/Winter collection 1966, which realised £18,000. It had been estimated to sell for £8,000-12,000 and was bought by a museum in the USA.

An ivory satin bridal gown, which had been designed for Audrey Hepburn by the Fontana Sisters for her planned marriage to James (later Lord) Hanson sold for £13,800.

In 1952, while Audrey Hepburn was filming Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck in Rome, she approached the Fontana sisters to ask them to make her bridal gown. Some weeks later when Audrey called off the planned wedding to James Hanson, she asked the eldest of the sisters - Zoe to give the dress away.

Audrey Hepburn's unused wedding dress
Hepburn's unused wedding dress

"I want my dress to be worn by another girl for her wedding, perhaps someone who couldn't ever afford a dress like mine - the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find."

Zoe's search centred on the town of Latina which had been founded by the fascists in 1932 and the dress was given to a poverty stricken young Italian girl called Amabile Altobella. When Amabile heard about the auction, she decided to offer it for sale. Estimated to fetch £8,000-12,000, it was bought by a private collector.

The sale which made a total of £542,040, also included the Marie Helvin collection, which realised a total of £16,044.

The second highest price of the sale was paid for a fine and rare Coco Chanel printed lace cocktail gown, dating from 1928, which sold for £24,000 - this had been bought a few years ago at a vintage fashion auction for £50.


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