Those looking to diversify their portfolios with an attractive investment may consider heading to Kerry Taylor Auctions in London, England, on March 17 and picking up some royal garb. In advance of the April 29 wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, the “dress that started it all” will be up for grabs. Middleton modelled the see-through shift over black lingerie at the annual University of St. Andrews charity fashion show in 2002. Though it cost a mere $30 to make, it’s now expected to fetch between $12,000 and $15,000.
That might sound steep, but Middleton’s sexy number is a bargain when you consider the estimated value of two of Diana’s dresses, which are also on Kerry Taylor’s auction block. A white lace evening gown worn by the late princess of Wales on a state visit to France is expected to earn up to $95,000. Meanwhile, a pretty pink chiffon dinner dress, which Diana sported in Japan, could attract between $47,000 and $63,000.
If these frocks go in the same fashion as Diana’s dresses have in the past, the selling prices will far exceed estimates—especially in the middle of royal wedding fever. Plus, in looking back, it seems the value of royal wear is increasing. A Christie’s sale of Diana’s dresses in 1997—then the most profitable charity auction in the history of the New York auction house—fetched at least $80,000 per garment (adjusted for inflation that’s about $100,000). In 2005, a mere copy of her extravagant 1981 wedding dress went under the hammer for about $201,000 (or $225,000 in today’s dollars). Most recently, in 2010, the strapless, black taffeta gown she wore at her first official appearance with Prince Charles, following the announcement of their engagement, earned a whopping $289,900.
When you compare that with the estimates for Middleton’s dress, and consider the rising value of the late princess Di’s wardrobe, any investment in royal clothing might just be as good as gold.