Princess Diana’s ‘black sheep’ sweater to hit the auction block this fall: ‘Meticulously preserved’

The playful jumper by Warm & Wonderful could fetch $50,000 to $80,000

Princess Diana’s iconic "black sheep" sweater is hitting the auction block decades after it stirred headlines.

The playfully patterned red wool jumper featuring a single black sheep surrounded by white ones is expected to sell for more than $50,000 this fall. It's headlining Sotheby’s online "Fashion Icons" sale in September.

"We associate Diana with high fashion, and many of the garments reflect her glamorous side," Christopher Andersen, author of "The King," told FOX Business.

"The black sheep sweater is significant because it represents another aspect of Diana's personality," he shared. "It reflects her playfulness, yes, but also the fact that she always felt like a loner, a rebel - someone who didn't quite fit in or belong. She saw herself as the black sheep in that design. For that reason, this possession of Diana's is so terribly prescient."

Princess Diana looking somber while wearing her black sheep sweater

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) wearing her "black sheep" wool jumper by Warm & Wonderful (Muir & Osborne) to Windsor Polo, June 1981. (Getty Images / Getty Images)

"She famously wore it during her engagement," Andersen pointed out. "She already knew that she was destined to become the black sheep of the royal family, at least in the eyes of her Windsor in-laws."

"Diana once said, ‘When I was born, I was unwanted. When I married Charles, I was unwanted. When I joined the royal family, I was unwanted. I want to be wanted,’" Andersen continued. "She never stopped feeling like the ultimate outsider, and the black sheep sweater reflects this. I think it's going to fetch considerably more than the $50,000 estimate."

The former Lady Diana Spencer was just 19 when she was photographed wearing the sweater at a polo match in June 1981. The sporting event took place shortly after her engagement to Prince Charles, who was then heir to the British throne.

The highly photographed moment gave a sales boost to Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, who made the sweater for their small knitwear label Warm & Wonderful.


Princess Diana wearing her black sheep sweater talking to Sarah Ferguson wearing a blue and white dress with a green blazer

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) with her close friend Sarah Ferguson at a polo match in June 1983. (Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images / Getty Images)

A few weeks later, Muir and Osborne received a letter from Buckingham Palace explaining that Diana had damaged the sweater and asking whether it could be repaired or replaced. The original was returned, showing damage to a sleeve. The designers thought it might have been caused by snagging on Diana’s diamond and sapphire engagement ring.

A new sweater was knitted and dispatched. Diana was photographed wearing it with white jeans and a black ribbon tie at an event in 1983.

Actress Emma Corrin, who played a young Diana in "The Crown," sported a replica in Season 4 of the Netflix series.

Warm & Wonderful still makes a cotton version of the design, which sells for $250. 

Osbourne discovered the original lying forgotten in a box in an attic in February of this year. After making the discovery in February of this year, they called Sotheby’s, People magazine reported.

Princess Diana wearing her black sheep sweater walking alongside Prince Charles wearing a red polo shirt

Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married from 1981 to 1996. (Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"This exceptional garment, meticulously preserved, carries the whispers of Princess Diana’s grace, charm and her keen eye for fashion," said Cynthia Houlton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Fashion and Accessories.

Diana’s personal items have been highly sought-after in recent years. In 2019, Diana’s Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt, one she frequently wore to the gym, was sold by RR Auction for $53, 533.

Then in January of this year, Kim Kardashian purchased Diana’s diamond and amethyst cross pendant for $197,453. Two weeks later, Diana’s aubergine evening gown by Victor Edelstein sold for $604,800, which was five times the pre-estimate, People magazine revealed.

Online bidding for Diana’s black sheep swearer opens Aug. 31, the anniversary of her 1997 passing at age 36. Online bidding runs to Sept. 14. The jumper will also be shown to the public from Sept. 7-13 at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York City.


A close-up of Princess Dianas black sheep sweater

A close-up of Princess Diana's "black sheep" jumper designed by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne during a press view at Sotheby's auction house in London on July 17, 2023. (DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Diana and Charles’ divorce was finalized in 1996, a year before her death. He remarried Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005. Charles, now, 74, became king upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.