A tongue-in-cheek sweater depicting a black sheep that was worn by Princess Diana has sold for $1,143,000 to an unnamed online bidder, shooting far beyond its high estimate of $80,000. Anticipation was high over how much interest the memorable statement piece would inspire, ever since Sotheby’s New York announced that it would headline its inaugural Fashion Icons online sale.
The whopping price tag has also far surpassed the existing record for a garment worn by Diana, which was set at $604,800 by one of her dresses at Sotheby’s in January.
Created by British designers Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne’s brand Warm & Wonderful, the playful knitwear is bright red and adorned with white sheep except for a lone black sheep appearing prominently on the front. Diana debuted the sweater at one of Prince Charles’s polo matches in June 1981 shortly after the couple had announced their engagement. The look was soon being imitated around the world and speculation was rife as to whether the design had any deeper meaning or resonance for Diana, such as being symbolic of her place within the royal family.
The wool sweater was sold with two letters documenting how later that same summer its sleeve became slightly damaged and Diana’s private secretary Oliver Everett sent it back to Muir and Osborne, requesting it be repaired or replaced. A new version was knitted for Diana, who sported the same look at another polo match in 1983. Four decades later, however, Muir and Osborne were amazed to chance upon Diana’s original, returned sweater in a box in the attic.
More than 26 years after her tragic death in 1997, Diana’s personal effects continue to be catnip for collectors. Earlier this year, private letters she wrote about her divorce to two close friends fetched nearly $175,000 at an auction house in Cornwall, England. In January, Kim Kardashian won a fierce bidding war to acquire for $197,453 the Attallah Cross, a unique piece of jewelry covered in amethysts and diamonds that Diana wore in 1987 to a charity gala.
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