Lupita Nyong’o showed up to the Oscars this year looking like a bag of money.
At least that’s what one enterprising thief saw — because on Tuesday, the custom Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein Collection gown was stolen from the actress’s hotel room at the London West Hollywood Hotel.
While law enforcement put the value of the dress at $150,000, pearl experts estimated the individual pearls could be worth anywhere from $1 million to $10 million. Officials reportedly received a call about the missing dress at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Nyong’o was gone from her hotel room all day Tuesday. So far, no arrests have been made, and detectives are reviewing the hotel’s security footage.
After burning up the red carpets in last year’s campaign, Nyong’o’s arrival at the Oscars this year was one of the most anticipated, and she did not disappoint, showing up covered in 6,000 natural pearls.
So what happens when a custom-designed Oscar gown goes missing? Hopefully, it’s insured. As we well know by now, most award-season gowns are loaned. It’s not clear whether the house planned for Nyong’o to keep the dress, or if it was meant to be returned.
Any fashionista would shudder at the prospect of Costa’s sculptural work of art being dismantled for the sake of selling the pearls — essentially putting it through a sartorial chop shop — but it’s difficult to see what else thieves could want with the dress. It’s not as though you could wait and have it turn up years later on some oligarch’s girlfriend unrecognized. Can you imagine? It’s the one time you might actually want to cop to wearing a knock-off, lest Interpol glamorously haul you away for questioning.
AmericanPearl.com estimated the value of the individual pearls to be much higher than the $150,000 quoted by the West Hollywood sheriff’s department.
“Based on our analysis of the size range of the pearls used in the dress, over a hundred 16-inch strands of natural pearls of four millimeters to seven millimeters in diameter would be needed to create this dress,” Heidi Cohen, director of marketing for American Pearl, told Women’s Wear Daily. “Natural pearl strands of this size and quality are easily valued at $10,000 each for fair market value.” That pushes the value at closer to $1 million wholesale or $10 million at auction. WWD was careful to point out that, being a pearl retailer, American Pearl would have an interest in publicizing the higher valuation, so by all means, take your grain of salt with that.
“The $150,000 estimate that many news outlets are reporting would be an approximate estimate for cultured pearls,” Cohen continued. “Knowing how rare natural pearls of this quality are, we estimate the value of the dress much higher for just the raw pearls alone, which may be why the dress became a target for theft.”
Well, given the minuscule chances that it will be recovered intact, it seems worth mentioning that Vogue has some great pictures of the gown’s construction and of Nyong’o being fitted in the Calvin Klein atelier.
“The most important aspect of a red-carpet gown is that it stays true to the woman’s spirit and complements her natural essence and personality,” Costa, Calvin Klein’s much-heralded creative director, told Vogue. “The most successful collaborations bring out the best of both the woman and the house.”
Costa expressed his chagrin on Instagram on Thursday night:
Officials from Calvin Klein had no official word on the theft, according to WWD.