The late Princess Diana’s iconic red sweater with white collars and a single black sheep – which some say may have foreshadowed her turbulent journey as a member of the British royal family – was sold at auction on Thursday for millions of rands.
The red sweater, which the late princess wore in June 1981 – shortly after her engagement to Prince (now King) Charles – was sold for $1.1 million (about R21 million).
The jersey was sold online by world-renowned auctioneers’ group, Sotheby’s, during an insane final auction.
The purchase price is ten times more than the initial amount Sotheby’s estimated the item would fetch.
Due to an influx of lots, the auctioneers extended the auction by a few minutes, with the amount making an astronomical jump from $190,000 to $1.1 million in the last 15 minutes of the auction.
According to Sotheby’s, this is the largest amount ever paid at auction for a piece of clothing that belonged to Princess Diana. It fetched even more than the Infanta-style evening dress that sold for $604,800 (about R11.5 million) in January. It is now also the most valuable jersey ever auctioned.
In June 1981, as a timid 19-year-old, Diana wore the jersey, on which a single black sheep adorns a pattern of white sheep, during a polo match.
The so-called “Black sheep” sweater was produced at the time by the unknown designers Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. As a result, their knitting company, Warm and Wonderful, gained worldwide fame.
Weeks after Diana was photographed in the sweater, the designers received a letter that one of the sweater’s sleeves was damaged, with the request that it be replaced or repaired.
The designers sent her a new sweater and in the meantime assumed the original version had been repaired and sent to another customer. However, in March this year, Osborne found the sweater in a small box in her attic.
Diana was photographed in 1983 in the replaced version of the jersey.
Along with the sweater, the letter about the repairs and a resignation note from Diana’s private secretary, Oliver Everett, were also auctioned.
“Black sheep” was produced again in 2020 for sales in terms of a collaboration agreement between the fashion brand Rowing Blazers and the original designers, Muir and Osborne.
The jersey is so iconic that a knockoff of it even appeared in the fourth season of the award-winning Netflix drama, The Crownwhich is based on the contemporary history of the House of Windsor, appeared.
Additional sources: AFP, BBC