Going, Going, Gown: Princess Di's Dress on eBay

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Sunday, August 19, 2007

Going, Going, Gown: Princess Di's Dress on eBay

What price nostalgia? A local charity is banking that a Princess Diana dress is worth at least $125,000.

With less than two weeks until the 10th anniversary of her death, the Di memorial machine is in full swing. WE tv, a cable network aimed at women, launched an online auction last week for a pale blue evening gown -- with an opening price of $125K. All proceeds benefit America's Promise Alliance, the Arlington charity founded by former secretary of state Colin Powell. The auction started Aug. 12; as of yesterday, there were no bidders.

"We're just all keeping our fingers and toes crossed," said America's Promise spokeswoman Colleen Wilber. The eBay auction site has received more than 300,000 hits, she said, and organizers expect buyers before the auction ends Wednesday.

Diana wore the chiffon gown and matching neck scarf, both designed by Catherine Walker, to the Cannes Film Festival in 1987 and the London opening of "Miss Saigon" in 1989. It was one of 79 dresses donated by the princess and auctioned off by Christie's in June 1997, just two months before she died. The event raised $3.2 million; WE tv -- then called Romance Classics -- paid $70,700 for the blue chiffon. (The highest bid, $222,500, went for the midnight-blue velvet Diana wore when she danced with John Travolta at the White House.)

In 2004, the chiffon gown was appraised at $275,000, a WE tv spokeswoman said Friday. How much is it really worth? According to Christie's reps: "If we were to put the dresses up for auction, our auction estimate would be $20,000 to $40,000 for each of the dresses. The estimates are lower, in many cases, than the prices realized in 1997 because the original prices the dresses were bought at were very high." On the other hand, another of Diana's Catherine Walker gowns just sold at auction in London for $121,000.

Still too pricey? For the price of a plane ticket, Di dress addicts can get up close with her royal castoffs: Pink Ribbons Crusade, a breast-cancer charity, has gathered a number of the 1997 auction dresses for an exhibition opening this fall in Ocala, Fla.

Portis's Birthday Suit: It's Made to Order

Never judge a running back by his crazy costumes. Clinton Portis dons wigs, sunglasses and animal prints for his wacky news conferences, but the Redskins player is a snappy dresser off the field. For the second year in a row, he's ordered a custom-made suit for his Sept. 1 birthday.

It's not unusual for pro athletes to wear custom clothing -- many are too tall or bulky to walk into stores and find something that fits. Portis is uncommon in two respects: At 5-11, 223 pounds, he could buy off the rack, and (unlike a lot of pros) he has "very good taste," said Matt Landsberg, owner of D.C.'s Eric Finn Custom Clothiers. "He said, 'I don't want anything over the top. I want something elegant and classy.' "

Most of Landsberg's customers are CEOs and lawyers; the bespoke suits start at $1,100 and go up to $4,000. He met Portis last year and created a suit for his 25th birthday -- a black tone-on-tone wool. This year Portis is giving himself ( shhhh-- it's a surprise) a two-tone stripe suit.

Surreal Estate

Landlord: Gilbert Arenas

Renter: Nick Young

Details: The Washington Wizards' "Agent Zero" has taken his new teammate under his wing -- practicing together, showing him moves and moving him into a Northern Virginia property. "I'm letting Nick Young rent out one of my houses," Arenas wrote on his blog Wednesday. "It's not all about being nice to a rookie, he'll help me pay off what I owe! It was an empty house because my daughter lives with me now. She doesn't need a whole place to herself. The family is with me now." The rookie seems to be a bit confused about the terms of the deal -- earlier this month, Young told L.A.'s Dailynews.com he bought the six-bedroom house: "I expected to rent at first, but Gil wouldn't have any of that. It's nice to own my first house.'' Read the fine print, Nick!

Our Out-of-Office Message? Read On

Even gossips need vacations. Reliable Source is headed for the beach -- novels and sunscreen in our totes, cellphones off -- for a break from Britney , Lilo and the rest of the rehab regulars. Send sightings, White House wedding rumors and other tips to reliablesource@washpost.com (monitored 24-7 by gossip elves), and we'll be back Sept. 5.

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