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Necklace Nets $2.2M at Di Auction

March 22, 1998

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ A 170-carat sapphire and diamond necklace modeled after a piece of jewelry in the movie ``Titanic″ sold for $2.2 million late Saturday at a fund-raiser held in honor of Princess Diana.

The black-tie Princess Ball was part of a gala to raise money for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and Southern California’s Aid for AIDS. The two charities will split the money.

The necklace was valued at $3.5 million before the auction. The buyer was not identified.

The necklace is called ``La Coeur de la Mer,″ or ``Heart of the Ocean.″ In ``Titanic,″ it was just a piece of costume jewelry, but it inspired the Asprey London company to create a real one. The marine-blue gem, culled from mines in Sri Lanka, is set in platinum and encased by a collection of 36 carats of diamonds.

The lucky bidder is expected to lend the necklace to singer Celine Dion, who was to wear it for her Oscar ceremony performance of the movie’s theme song on Monday night.

A blue oval box painted with the letter ``D″ and decorated with the national flowers of Great Britain went for $6,000 to a woman who declined to give her name. Diana had given the box to Paul Burrell, her butler, as a birthday gift, and Burrell now manages the memorial fund.

The fund was established following Diana’s death in an August 1997 car accident. It will help charitable groups supported by Diana, including AIDS research.

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