London: It has been revealed that the dress worn by Princess Diana while dancing with John Travolta at a White House gala dinner in 1985 hosted by Ronald and Nancy Reagan, which was reported to have been auctioned off this year, has not been sold.
The blue velvet “Travolta” gown, which perhaps became the most famous in Princess Diana’s wardrobe, was said to have been sold for a reputed world record of 510,000 pounds at an auction.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, amid legal dispute and disputes over ownership, the dress never sold at all – nor did nine other gowns, which were once owned by the late princess that were allegedly sold at the same auction for a little over 2 million dollars.
The “Travolta” dress, designed by Victor Edelstein, was first sold along with 13 others from Princess Diana’s wardrobe at an auction in New York in 1997 on her own instigation, the proceeds of which were to go to charity.
Maureen Dunkel from Tampa, Florida, bought the dresses for 420,000 pounds, two months after which the Princess of Wales died and Mrs Dunkel announced she would be taking the costumes on tour around the world in an exhibition called “Dresses For Humanity”, the income from which would go to the People’s Princess Charitable Foundation, set up by Mrs Dunkel for victims of Aids, cancer and land mines.
The businesswoman got into financial difficulties in part over a failed property development and found herself owing creditors 1.5 million pounds, including a 1 million pounds loan she took out using the Diana dresses as collateral.
These consequences prompted the forced sale of the dresses at an auction in Toronto in June and on the night of the sale, the dresses appeared to have sold in a flurry of bids with 510,000 pounds alone for the “Travolta” dress.
The auction house has now admitted that just three dresses sold at auction and one further gown afterwards, raising in the region of just 250,000 pounds.
Peter Bennett, a builder and architect owed about 170,000 pounds by Mrs Dunkel, said that the sale was totally faked.
“This sale was totally faked. Just a few dresses sold. The rest of the dresses didn’t sell at all. The dresses are coming back to Tampa. I was hoping to get my money from the proceeds of the sale. That is not going to happen,” he said.
An official spokesman at Waddington’s in Toronto has said: “Three dresses sold at the auction and one afterwards.
“We were delighted to be able to offer the dresses, but because of the express wishes of the consignor (Mrs Dunkel), and some of the complications regarding the sale, we are unable to comment further,” the spokesman said.
Darren Julien, respected Beverly Hills-based auctioneer – who had previously been offered the Diana dresses to sell but declined them – said: “There’s something fishy about all of this. It’s not proper for an auction house to say something sold when it didn’t. That would be considered unethical”.