How Much Is a Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy Dress Worth?

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s enduring style has become a cottage industry unto itself with fans and followers still copying some of her signature looks, and authors like Elizabeth Beller and Sunita Kumar Nair referencing her fashion choices in their books. Never mind the revival of the slipdress — the unexpected choice that she had decided on with fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez for her wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr.

The latest sign of her winning stylishness was registered in a Bonhams auction, where a Yohji Yamamoto black silk wrap trench dress that once belonged to the style setter sold for $8,960 — quadruple the pre-auction estimate. The sale marked the first time that any of the pieces from Bessette-Kennedy’s wardrobe had been sold at auction. It was part of the 10-day Bonhams Collecting Classic Luxury online sale that wrapped up Thursday.

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The designer dress was from Yamamoto’s 1998 spring collection. Bessette-Kennedy, who died with her husband and her sister Lauren in a 1999 plane crash, had worn the evening look to such occasions as a dinner at The Supper Club following a Parsons Dance performance in 1998. There, she was photographed with her mother-in-law, Jackie Kennedy’s sister Lee Radziwill.

After Bessette-Kennedy’s death, her other sister Lisa gave the Yamamoto dress as a gift to JFK Jr.’s close friend Sasha Chermayeff, a New York-based artist, who subsequently turned it over to Bonhams. Having worked with VIPs at Calvin Klein for several years, Bessette-Kennedy favored minimalist looks from such designer labels as Yamamoto, Prada, Miu Miu, Ann Demeulemeester and Yves Saint Laurent.

Twenty-five years after the fatal plane crash, interest in Bessette-Kennedy’s life and marriage is still strong. Last month Elizabeth Beller released “Once Upon a Time: The Captivating Life of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy” and last fall Kumar Nair published “CBK: Carolyn Bessette Kennedy: A Life in Fashion.” Next up is one by JFK Jr.’s former assistant and friend RoseMarie Terenzio, who has penned “JFK Jr.: An Intimate Oral Biography” with Liz McNeil. That Simon & Schuster page-turner is being published in mid-July and includes stories and insights from friends, classmates, teachers, colleagues and former lovers. Terenzio also wrote another book about Kennedy and his wife: “Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love and Loss” in 2012.

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