Princess Diana's famous Victor Edelstein dress sells for £500k

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The Victor Edelstein dress worn by Princess Diana sold at nearly five times its pre-auction estimate. (Getty Images/Courtesy of Sotheby's)

A dress formally in the collection and worn by the late Princess Diana has sold at auction for nearly five times its pre-auction estimate.

The strapless violet evening dress went under the hammer on Friday, and achieved $604,800 (£488,545) for its final bid, five times more than its pre-auction estimate of $80,000-120,000.

Four bidders competed for the six-figure piece of history over four and a half minutes at Sotheby’s New York salesroom.

The sale comes after Kim Kardashian purchased Princess Diana's Attallah Cross necklace at auction for £164,000 earlier this month.

 Photographer Mario Testino attends the press view for
Photographer Mario Testino with the image he took of Princess Diana in the iconic Victor Edelstein dress at the 2005 exhibition Diana, Princess Of Wales By Mario Testino held at Kensington Palace. (Getty Images)

The ‘Infanta’ style, created by society dressmaker Victor Edelstein, was worn by Princess Diana in a 1991 portrait with the then Prince Charles by Lord Snowdon, and then later was captured on camera by Mario Testino in 1997 for the iconic Vanity Fair photoshoot with the late princess.

Read more: Kim Kardashian buys Princess Diana's Attallah Cross necklace for £164,000

The ballgown – which was originally designed for Victor Edelstein’s autumn/winter 1989 collection – was created from a silk velvet, and featured a tulip-shaped stiffened skirt. Its bandeau strapless style features ruched draping at the bodice and three paste buttons at the back.

Fashion photographer Mario Testino captured the late people’s princess in a now-iconic set of images for Vanity Fair in 1997, which turned out to be the last official portraits taken of Diana before her untimely death in August of the same year.

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The strapless Victor Edelstein dress features three paste buttons at the back. (Courtesy of Sotheby's)

The gown previously sold for $24,150 as part of the 1997 auction that sold off 80 dresses from Princess Diana’s personal collection to raise money for the AIDS Crisis Trust and the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund.

Read more: Princess Diana's biographer reveals the surprising question he never asked her

A portrait of Diana wearing the dress, by British artist Douglas Hardinge Anderson in 1991 now hangs at the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund, which she visited, supported through philanthropy and for which she served as President.

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The dress was worn by Princess Diana in both 1991 and 1997, and originally sold for $24,150 at auction in 1997. (Courtesy of Sotheby's)

“Princess Diana has long been renowned and celebrated for her timeless sense of style, and this sleek and sophisticated bespoke ball gown, designed by Victor Edelstein, encapsulates Princess Diana’s effortless elegance,” said Cynthia Houlton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Fashion and Accessories of the sale.

“Today’s sale of this historic dress is a reminder of Princess Diana’s enduring legacy that continues to inspire people all over the world,” she added.

Read more: Why Princess Diana's 'Revenge Dress' remains so iconic today

Edelstein was one of Diana’s go-to designers for over a decade, from 1982 to 1993, creating many of her custom looks for royal visits, including the off-the-shoulder gown made famous when the late princess visited the US and danced with John Travola wearing the design.

Watch: One of Princess Diana's favourite dresses to be auctioned off by Sotheby's