One princess’s trash is another auction-goer’s $1.143 million treasure, as it turns out.
The iconic “Black Sheep” sweater worn by the late Princess Diana sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York Thursday for an eye-popping sum, breaking the record for the highest price fetched for an item worn by Diana. Previously, the record was $604,800 for an aubergine evening gown Diana wore, designed by Victor Edelstein. The sweater was originally estimated to sell for somewhere between $50,000 and $80,000.
The sweater depicts a flock of white sheep set off against a red background, with one black sheep standing out among them. Diana wore the sweater out and about with jeans in 1981, just a month before she married now-King Charles III. She was just 19 years old, and the sweater made an instant impression.
The sweater, designed by Warm and Wonderful and available in reproduction today due to its lasting popularity, is one of at least two that Diana owned—and was the original. The designers of Warm and Wonderful, Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, recalled getting a letter from Buckingham Palace shortly after Diana made headlines in the attention-grabbing sweater. She’d damaged it, and was hoping to replace or repair the jumper. The company sent a new sweater to her, and the old one was tucked away and forgotten about—until recently.
“I was in the attic in February searching for a pattern, and I just happen to notice this old wine box in a corner—and there was a red sheep jumper wrapped in a cotton bedspread,” Osborne told People. “It was well preserved, and I had a kind of Groundhog Day moment and thought, ‘Could this be the one?’ I looked at the cuff which had obviously been sewn back on, and I called Sal and said, ‘I think I’ve found the actual real Diana jumper!’”
“We had just sort of forgotten about it,” Muir said.
After looking at photos of Diana in the original, Osborne said, “we both felt certain that it was the actual one. We just knew because every jumper is different, so it was easy to see. So we called Sotheby’s!”
Diana wore the design again, her replacement version, in 1983.
Last week, three of Princess Diana’s gowns sold at auction for a total of $1.62 million.
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