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Liz Taylor Gown Tops Oscar Auction

March 19, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Oscar couture proved to be very lucrative.

Toymaker Mattel Inc. paid $167,500 for one of Elizabeth Taylor’s bosom-baring gowns and the Home Shopping Network shelled out $79,500 for a Madonna ensemble Thursday.

Christie’s auction house said the price for Miss Taylor’s gown, which she wore to the 1969 Oscars, was the second-highest ever for a dress at auction, after the $222,500 paid for one of Princess Diana’s dresses in 1997.

The sale of 56 dresses worn to four decades of Academy Awards ceremonies brought in $786,120, including premiums. ``Unforgettable: Fashion of the Oscars″ was a benefit for the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Mattel bought the Taylor gown over the phone. The waist-cinching, violet-and-periwinkle gown was designed to call attention to a 69.42-carat diamond necklace her then-husband Richard Burton had given her.

She wore the dress, designed by legendary Hollywood costumer Edith Head, to introduce best picture nominee ``Midnight Cowboy.″

Auctioneer Francois Curiel, deputy chairman of Christie’s, said Miss Taylor listened to the bidding over the phone.

``I know she was very, very pleased,″ he said.

Madonna had donated the black-and-gray Jean-Paul Gaultier ensemble that she wore in 1998 to present the Oscar for best song from a feature film.

Home Shopping Network President Mark Bozek said the network would use the outfit ``to further awareness of AmFAR.″ He did not elaborate.

American Movie Classics and its spin off, Romance Classics, bought four dresses, including gowns worn by best actress nominee Kate Winslet in 1998 and Janet Leigh in 1959.

The cable channels paid $57,500 for the ``Titanic″ star’s forest green silk crepe Givenchy gown and $34,500 for the silver beaded Edith Head evening dress Leigh wore to present two Oscars for best screenplay with her husband, Tony Curtis.

An unidentified buyer spent $17,250 on the outfit actress Cate Blanchett is expected to wear at this Sunday’s ceremony.

John Gonzalez and Kevin Kladakis of Tampa, Fla., posed proudly with the Prada silk gown worn by Sigourney Weaver to the 1997 Oscars. They bought it for $4,025.

``She looked stunning in it,″ recalled Gonzalez, who said he and Kladakis planned to display the dress to raise money for AIDS organizations.

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