Iconic ‘Black Sheep’ Sweater Worn by Princess Diana Fetches $1.1 Million at Auction

An iconic red sweater, worn by Princess Diana shortly after her engagement to then-Prince Charles and featuring rows of fluffy sheep, has been sold at auction for $1.1 million, Sotheby’s announced on Thursday.

The 19-year-old Diana sported this distinctive knitted garment at a polo match in June 1981, during her early days as a shy royal-to-be. The “Black Sheep” sweater, playfully patterned with one black sheep among numerous white wooly creatures, became one of Diana’s most emblematic clothing pieces, hinting at her tumultuous journey as a member of the British royal family.

The sweater’s final auction price

The sweater’s final auction price of $1.1 million, inclusive of fees and commission, resulted from intense competition among online bidders. This figure exceeded Sotheby’s initial estimate, which ranged from $50,000 to $80,000.

Due to the flood of bids, the auction’s duration was extended by several minutes. During the final 15 minutes, the price skyrocketed from $190,000 to $1.1 million.

Sotheby’s noted that this sale marked the highest price ever paid at auction for an item of Princess Diana’s clothing, surpassing the $604,800 earned from the sale of her Infanta-style ball gown in January. It also became the most valuable sweater ever auctioned.

The “Black Sheep” sweater

The “Black Sheep” sweater was crafted by relatively unknown designers Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne and their knitting company, Warm and Wonderful, which gained prominence following Diana’s endorsement. After Diana was photographed wearing the sweater, the designers received a letter requesting repair for one of its sleeves. They sent her a replacement and believed the original was repaired and dispatched to a customer. However, in March 2023, Osborne rediscovered the sweater in a small attic box.

The auction also included the letter requesting repair and a thank-you note from Diana’s private secretary, Oliver Everett. Diana was seen wearing the replacement sweater at another polo match in June 1983.

Decades later, in 2020, the “Black Sheep” sweater was re-released for sale in collaboration between the fashion brand Rowing Blazers and its original designers, Muir and Osborne. So iconic was this sweater that it made an appearance (in replica form) in the fourth season of the Netflix series “The Crown,” which chronicles the recent history of the House of Windsor.

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