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The "Black Sheep" Knit Worn by Princess Diana Becomes the Most Expensive Sweater Auctioned


Princess Diana made a lasting mark on fashion history with her iconic outfits, challenging royal dress codes and semiotics. From her famous wedding dress to the renowned "revenge dress" she wore in 1994, and her pioneering embrace of athleisure in the '90s, Diana's bold fashion sense remains a part of her enduring legacy.

In an unexpected turn of events, a "black sheep" sweater worn by Princess Diana stole the show at Sotheby's Fashion Icons auction in New York, breaking the record for the highest price ever paid for a garment from her wardrobe. This cozy piece, which Diana wore to a polo match in 1981 while engaged to King Charles III, fetched a staggering $1,143,000 after just 15 minutes of intense bidding.

Previously, the highest price for an item from Diana's collection was held by a Victor Edelstein ball gown from 1989, a strapless maroon silk-velvet dress that symbolized her evolving fashion sense. It sold for $604,800 earlier in the year. However, the quirky knit sweater has not only surpassed that record but also set a new benchmark as the most valuable sweater ever sold at auction (previously held by a cardigan worn by Kurt Cobain during a Nirvana performance on MTV Unplugged, according to Sotheby's).

This distinctive sweater, created in 1979 by knitwear designers Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne under their label Warm & Wonderful, features a pattern of white sheep arranged in rows, with a lone black sheep standing out on the front. Interestingly, shortly after Diana initially wore it, she reported a minor snag in one of the cuffs, leading to its return to Buckingham Palace. Muir and Osborne promptly knitted her a replacement, earning a letter of gratitude from the palace. Diana later wore this replacement sweater at the 1983 polo match.

Initially estimated to sell for between $50,000 and $80,000, the sweater garnered immense interest, resulting in 44 bids and ultimately selling for a price 14 times higher than anticipated, according to Sotheby's.

In response to the record-breaking sale, Muir and Osborne expressed their delight, stating, "We are thrilled that this cherished sweater has now found a new home, carrying with it the enduring legacy of Princess Diana."