banner with image of audrey hepburn's eyes

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" dress fetches $800,000

Yahoo News
By Mike Collett-White Tue Dec 5, 5:06 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - The iconic black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's" sold for 410,000 pounds ($800,000) on Tuesday, around seven times its pre-sale estimate.

Including the premium paid to auctioneers Christie's, the total cost for the sleeveless, floor-length Givenchy cocktail gown rose to 467,200 pounds ($920,000).

The sale room at Christie's broke into applause at the end of a long and tense session when it was finally bought by an anonymous telephone bidder. Christie's would only say that the successful bidder was European.

The dress, one of three versions made for Hepburn for her role as socialite
Holly Golightly in the classic romantic comedy, was being auctioned on behalf of the City of Joy Aid charity which helps underprivileged children in India.

"There are tears in my eyes," said Dominic Lapierre, who runs the charity. Givenchy gave the dress to his friends the Lapierres to raise money for the charity.

"I am absolutely dumbfounded to believe that a piece of cloth which belonged to such a magical actress will now enable me to buy bricks and cement to put the most destitute children in the world into schools."

Hepburn wears one of the black fashion classics as she emerges from a cab onto a deserted, early-morning New York street and peers through the window of jeweller Tiffany while she eats breakfast from a brown paper bag.

Christie's said the auction set a new world record for a movie dress, but it fell short of the auction house's own world record for any woman's costume.

That belongs to the white silk evening gown worn by Marilyn Monroe the night she sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy in 1962, which fetched $1.27 million at a New York auction in 1999.

"SKINNY LITTLE NOBODY"

Hepburn first met Givenchy in 1953, when the Belgian-born actress described herself as "a skinny little nobody." The Oscar winner's collaboration with Givenchy went on to re-define Hollywood chic.

The Hepburn dress was the star lot of the annual film and entertainment sale at Christie's, in London's upmarket South Kensington.

According to Christie's, a second version of the dress remains in the Givenchy archives while a third is part of a collection of the Museum of Costume in Madrid.

Elsewhere in the sale, a Walther PP handgun from the first James Bond film -- "Dr. No" starring Sean Connery -- was sold for 54,000 pounds including premium, more than double its estimate of around 20,000 pounds.