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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 05:56 GMT 06:56 UK
Bassey's dresses raise 250,000
The Welsh flag dress
The singer herself bought the famous Welsh flag dress
Dresses belonging to singing star Shirley Bassey have raised 250,000 for charities close to her heart.

Ms Bassey chose 50 of her show-stopping gowns for auction in London, and had hoped to raise around 50,000.

But such was the popularity of her show-stopping gowns that more than five times the amount was achieved.

It is understood the famous Welsh flag dress, worn at the official opening of the Millennium Stadium, was bought by the diva herself for 7,000.

A shimmering chiffon dress, which she wore to sing to US President John F Kennedy following his inauguration, sold for 6,500.

Ms Bassey attended the auction at Christie's in person, to help boost the bidding.

Before the auctioning began, Dame Shirley told the roomful of millionaire guests and celebrities: "I am going to leave you with these words." She then broke into song to tumultuous applause and clapping with: "Hey big spender spend a little time with me."

Famous faces included broadcaster David Frost, fashion designer Isabelle Kristensen, rock star Bryan Adams, and the Aga Khan. The money will be split between the Dame Shirley Bassey scholarship and two concerns in her birthplace of Cardiff - the Royal Welsh College of Music and the Noah's Ark Children's Hospital appeal.

The sale on Thursday marked Ms Bassey's 50 years in showbusiness - is a world away from her beginnings as an entertainer when she earned her living in a factory by day and singing in smoky clubs in Cardiff's docklands by night.

some of the dresses at auction
The dresses spanned 50 years
The oldest piece up for sale was a 1955 sleeveless stage gown, known affectionately by Ms Bassey as "the diamond dress".

The outfit is encrusted with thousands of Swarovski aurora borealis crystals and weighs at an incredible 13lb (6kg).

Another of her favourites on sale is a black velvet gown with a three-dimensional orchid made from crystals,

The gold and silver sequinned and beaded gown associated with her first hit, the 1964 James Bond theme tune Goldfinger, is also in the auction.

The BBC's Razia Iqbal
"In these dresses she has sung for queens and presidents"

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27 Sep 00  |  Wales


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