Breakfast at City of Joy’s

The Little Black Dress: iconic, remarkable, exceptional. Audrey Hepburn’s legendary Givenchy dress was auctioned 12 years ago, but where did all the money go?

The dress – although long and unfitting to the modern definition of an LBD – has gone through its own long journey. Just like its owner – who went from chorus girl to starring roles to American Film Institute’s third-greatest female screen legend – the dress has also gone through many stages in order to reach its current unknown location.

It should be of major consideration that there are three original Little Black Dresses floating around in the world. The original Dress is in Givenchy’s private archive, and it is one of the two copies that Hepburn took with her after shooting Breakfast at Tiffany’s that gained the most attention when it was auctioned. The other one belongs to Paramount Pictures and is currently on display in Madrid, Spain.

12 years ago today, the dress was auctioned at Christie’s in London for a final price of £467,200, and purchased by an anonymous buyer. While it is still widely unknown who this buyer is, the only known characteristic is that they are European.

Probably what Hepburn’s face would look like if she knew the amount of money the dress she’s currently wearing would raise. Image by skeeze on Pixabay.

How did it reach this auction in the first place?

Dominique Lapierre, the French author of City of Joy, was raising funds for his charity, and Hubert de Givenchy made the decision to donate the dress in order to raise more money. Lapierre’s charity, City of Joy Foundationfocused on helping the poor in Calcutta with actions such as building schools and providing medical care. It currently runs 14 schools and rehabilitation centres for disabled children, four hospital boats and 652 drinking water wells in the Sundarbans in West Bengal, India.

At the staggering price, Hepburn’s Dress is the fifth most expensive piece of clothing in the world – the first being Marilyn Monroe’s Happy Birthday, Mr. President dress going at $4.8 million in 2016 and now belonging to a Canadian billionaire – and it is unsurprising to say Lapierre was astonished by the amount a simple black piece of clothing managed to raise for his foundation.

With tears in his eyes, he said: “I’m absolutely dumbfounded to believe that a piece of cloth which belonged to such a magical actress will now enable me to buy bricks and cement to put the most destitute children in the world into schools.”

In short, where did the huge amount of money paid for a simple yet legendary black dress go? Into schools and healthcare for those in Calcutta.

Don’t worry, the copious amount of money was definitely put into good use.


Words: Sissi Yi Hu | Subbing: Maria Campuzano

Featured image: “Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” by Breakfast at Tiffany’s trailer on Wikipedia


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