(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Princess Diana’s sweater featuring a black sheep among rows of white ones has sold for $1.14 million (£920,000) at an auction by Sotheby’s in New York.
Bidding opened 31 August, and the top bid stayed under $200,000 (£161,000) until the auction’s final minutes.
Sotheby’s had estimated the value of the “sheep jumper” at $50,000 to $80,000 (£40,300 to £64,500).
It did not disclose the identity of the winning bidder.
The simple piece of knitwear, which was unearthed in an attic in March, commanded a higher price than many other objects tied to the “People’s Princess” that were sold at auctions in recent years.
Diana’s car, a Ford Escort, may be the closest, going for $806,000 (£650,000) in 2022.
The amethyst-bedecked Attallah Cross that Diana frequently wore was sold to reality star Kim Kardashian for roughly one-fifth of the sweater’s amount – $203,000 (£163,800) – at an auction in January.
The sweater’s design is often described as symbolic of Diana’s place within the royal family.
But fashion historians believe Diana was not sending a message, as she may have done in later years with her famous “revenge dress”, when she wore the sweater in 1981, a month before her wedding to then Prince Charles. Instead, many say Diana was simply sporting the “Sloane Ranger” style she helped popularise.
In the era before social-media influencers, newspaper photos of Diana in the sweater gave its maker, Warm and Wonderful knitwear, a “stratospheric launch” and inspired copycat designs, according to Sotheby’s.
Shortly after her marriage, Buckingham Palace wrote to Warm and Wonderful that the sweater had been damaged and sought a repair or replacement. Princess Diana then wore the replacement to another polo match in 1983.
Sotheby’s included the letter to Warm and Wonderful as well as a thank-you note for the replacement in the auction lot. It also used the sweater’s small hole to confirm authenticity.