Princess Diana's Travolta dress makes $362,500 at Kerry Taylor Auctions


The dress that Princess Diana wore while dancing with actor John Travolta has seen the top bids in Kerry Taylor Auctions' highly-anticipated sale, Fit for a Princess: Dresses from Diana, Princess of Wales, which was held today (March 19) in London.

The sweeping Victor Edelstein midnight blue evening gown was first seen when Diana shared a breathtaking dance with the actor at the White House in 1985. It sold for £240,000 ($362,563) including buyer's premium, as one of 10 of the princess' dresses offered in the sale.

"It sold to a British gentleman as a surprise to cheer up his wife. Lucky woman!" states the auction house.

Princess Diana John Travolta dress
Diana's dance with Travolta was arranged by Mrs Reagan, who had to coax the shy Grease star on to the stage

"Princess Diana was a bit of a fashion icon really, everything she wore was constantly copied or scrutinised in the press," commented Kerry Taylor prior to the sale.

"I think the tragedy of her early death, of such a young beautiful woman, has added to that appeal."

The princess herself originally sold the dresses at Christie's in 1997, apparently at the behest of the young Prince William, in another of her renowned efforts for charity.

They were later offered again in a 2011 auction, but many failed to sell, with the Canadian auction house attributing the lack of success to the high reserve placed on them by the consignor, Maureen Dunkel.

Also starring at Kerry Taylor Auctions was a Catherine Walker burgundy crushed velvet gown that Diana wore on her state visit to Australia, as well as to the premiere of Back to the Future, in 1985. It made an impressive 115.9% increase on its £50,000 estimate to sell for £108,000 ($163,153).

More strong results were seen by another Catherine Walker piece, this time a black velvet beaded gown worn for the Vanity Fair shoot with legendary fashion photographer Mario Testino in 1997. Valued at £50,000-70,000, it brought £108,000 and a 54% increase on estimate.

Princess Diana Vanity Fair dress auction
The dresses that Diana was photographed in or wore for state visits are her most valuable at auction, such as this one worn in her 1997 Vanity Fair shoot

Kerry Taylor explained Diana's enduring appeal for collectors. "She was an important person in British history, and the mother of the future king. There's also the James Dean/Marilyn Monroe factor - it all adds to the allure."

If you missed out on the sale, Paul Fraser Collectibles has an outstanding selection of Princess Diana memorabilia for sale, including signed photographs and handwritten letters.


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