$125,871 paid for Middleton's see-through dress
Thursday, March 17, 2011; 5:06 PM
LONDON -- A revealing piece of royal history was sold Thursday for 78,000 pounds ($125,871) when an unidentified buyer bought the infamous see-through dress Kate Middleton wore back in 2002 when she and Prince William were university friends.
Some reports maintain that the sight of Middleton in the transparent dress as she walked down the catwalk at a charity fashion show helped convince William that she was someone he wanted to get to know better.
Whether or not the see-through black dress was a major factor, they soon became boyfriend and girlfriend, starting a long-term romance that will bring them to the altar of Westminster Abbey on April 29.
The dress was supposed to be a skirt, but Middleton wore it as a dress showing her black underwear beneath.
It was bought by an unidentified male British buyer at a London auction Thursday for 65,000 pounds ($104,948) and an additional 13,000 pounds ($20,989) of buyer's premium.
"He thinks it's an iconic piece," said an unnamed man who represented the buyer at the auction. "He's very happy."
About three to four bidders competed for the dress in the packed room, while some also bid by phone. Gasps rang around the room when the bidding drove the price up to 65,000 pounds ($104,948).
No one would mistake the dress for high fashion. It was put up for sale by designer Charlotte Todd, who did not go into fashion but works in an aquarium.
"I'm completely shocked, I need to sit down and get my head round it," Todd, 31, said. "I didn't like to get my hopes up, I was thinking it might not sell. I wasn't thinking of a sum of money in my head."
Bidder Carole Lieberman said the garment shows that Middleton was willing to use hardball tactics in pursuit of the University of St. Andrew's' most eligible bachelor.
Lieberman, a U.S. talk show host and psychiatrist, said before the auction that she had planned to bid aggressively on the dress after buying other items, including nightdresses that belonged to Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee who lured King Edward VIII from the throne. Lieberman was outbid by the mystery buyer.
She said she wanted to purchase Middleton's dress because Middleton was "the quintessential good girl who used bad girl secrets to catch her prince."
Earlier Thursday, an item of lingerie from Simpson's wardrobe - a scarlet chiffon nightdress with a cape - sold for more than 6,500 pounds ($10,500) at auction. Also under the hammer were garments worn by Princess Diana, including a Catherine Walker white lace evening gown worn during a visit to France in 1988 that sold for 36,000 pounds.