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Friday, March 19, 1999 Published at 12:20 GMT

Buyers clamour for Oscars glamour

Elizabeth Taylor wore the dress at the 1969 Academy Awards

A dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor at the 1969 Academy Awards was sold for $167,500 at auction on Thursday, the second-highest price ever.

The periwinkle blue and violet crepe dress was among a selection of 56 dresses worn by some of Hollywood's leading ladies which went under the hammer at Christies to benefit Aids research.

[ image: Elizabeth Taylor's crepe evening dress from 1969]
Elizabeth Taylor's crepe evening dress from 1969
California-based toymaker Mattel bought the gown, which Ms Taylor wore to present the Best Film award to Midnight Cowboy.

Over 300 people turned out for the auction in Christie's Park Avenue showroom, which raised over $786,000, nearly twice the amount expected.

Auctioneer Francois Curiel said: "I'm thrilled. I had expected $300,000 or $400,000 if everything went well".

Fetching the second highest price of the evening was a black silk faille and dove-grey tulle Jean-Paul Gaultier gown which Madonna wore in 1998 to present the Oscar for best song from a feature film.

A TV shopping channel bought the dress for $79,500, and said it would be used to publicise and raise more money for Aids research.

[ image: Julia Robert's 1991 coat dress came under the hammer]
Julia Robert's 1991 coat dress came under the hammer
The American Foundation for Aids Research will receive the proceeds from the sale. Chairwoman Michelle Krim said: "We're very pleased with the results. A lot of research can be done with this kind of money."

Other highlights of the auction included $17,250 paid by an anonymous buyer for the yet-to-be decided dress to be worn at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony by Cate Blanchett, nominated for Best Actress.

A forest green silk crepe dress worn by Titanic star Kate Winslet at last year's Oscar ceremony fetched the third highest bid of $57,500.

But still holding the record for the highest price for a dress at auction is the off-the-shoulder, ink-blue velvet gown which belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales.

The dress was worn by the late princess when she danced with John Travolta at a White House dinner in 1985. It sold for $222,500 at an auction just months before her death.

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