Princess Diana’s Blouse, an Animatronic E.T. Head, and ‘Big Lebowski’ Robe Headline Memorabilia Auction
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Princess Diana’s Blouse, an Animatronic E.T. Head, and ‘Big Lebowski’ Robe Headline Memorabilia Auction

By Eric Grossman
Thu, Nov 30, 2023 9:13amGrey Clock 3 min

The blouse Princess Diana wore for her engagement portrait, E.T.’s head, and the robe “The Dude” wore in The Big Lebowski are just some of the wide range of instantly recognisable pop culture artefacts going up for auction next month.

Julien’s Auctions is partnering with Turner Classic Movies for the Dec 14-17 sale, titled Hollywood Legends.

“Associated with phrases such as ‘Danger, Will Robinson,’ ‘E.T. phone home,’ and ‘Avengers, assemble!,’ these iconic collectibles provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fans, pop culture enthusiasts, and collectors to own a piece of Hollywood history,” Martin Nolan, Julien’s co-founder and executive director, said in a statement announcing the sale Monday.

The sale comprises three components taking place over four days at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills (Dec. 14), Julien’s facility in Gardena, Calif. (Dec. 15-17), and online at

Featuring props, costumes, and models from some of the most iconic science fiction, fantasy, action, and superhero franchises dating back to the 1950s, the first program—billed as Robots, Wizards, Heroes & Aliens—will be held during the sale’s first two days (Dec. 14-15). In celebration of Warner Bros.’ 100th anniversary, an assortment of items from the studio’s biggest film franchises, such as Harry Potter and Batman, will be offered.

Princess Diana’s Engagement Blouse
Julien’s Auctions

The marquee item is an original mechanical animatronic E.T. head—created by the legendary special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi and as seen throughout Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film E.T. the Extra Terrestrial—that’s estimated to fetch between US$800,000 and US$1 millionThis model comes from Rambaldi’s own collection, as did the animatronic figure of E.T. sold by Julien’s Auctions last November for US$2.56 million.

Also sure to draw heightened interest is one of the most famous robots of all time, the Model B-9 from Lost In Space. One of only two full-scale figures that were made for the pioneering 1960s science fiction series, the still-functional model is expected to sell for between US$300,000 and US$500,000.

Fans of the Coen Brothers’ 1998 classic film The Big Lebowski will focus on day three (Dec. 16) of the sale, which will celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary. More than 250 items, including storyboards and costumes, will go under the hammer, with a portion of the proceeds going to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

Expected to draw the highest bids are a pair of lots featuring items worn by Jeff Bridges in the title role. Estimated to go for between US$30,000 and US$50,000, The Dude ensemble—which appears throughout the film, including in the memorable opening scene—consists of a light-brown knitted fleece bathrobe and an off-white cotton Jockey T-shirt. An original pair of sunglasses featuring nylon frames with amber-colored polycarbonate lenses is expected to sell in the neighbourhood of US$20,000 to US$30,000.

Glamour, Grace and Greatness, the third component of the auction, will close out the sale’s final day (Dec. 17) with items created by revered designers and worn by some of the greatest style icons of all time.

Headliner status goes to a piece from one of the most iconic images ever taken of Princess Diana: the blush pink chiffon blouse worn in her 1981 engagement portrait—famously captured by the world-renowned photographer Lord Snowden for the February 1981 issue of Vogue—is estimated to fetch between US$80,000 and $100,000. With its ruff-like collar and loose pleats to the front, the garment was created by designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel, who would later design Princess Diana’s wedding gown. The blouse, which Elizabeth Emanuel sold from her archives in 2010, was admired by millions when it was previously on display at London’s Kensington Palace as part of the exhibition “Diana: Her Fashion Story” that ran from 2017 to 2019.

E.T’s Animatronic head
Julien’s Auctions

Another famous piece sure to draw intense bidding is a ballerina-length evening dress from the Moroccan-British fashion designer Jacques Azagury that was worn by Princess Diana in Florence, Italy on April 23, 1985. Featuring a black velvet bodice with embroidered stars in metallic thread, and a two-tier royal blue organza skirt with sash and bow, the dress is estimated to sell for between US$100,000 and US$200,000.

Other highlights include Givenchy-designed garments worn by Audrey Hepburn in one of her most memorable roles as Regina “Reggie” Lampert in the 1963 film Charade. A marigold wool coat is expected to sell for between US$20,000 and US$40,000, while a cream wool dress is estimated to earn between US$30,000 and US$50,000.

Fans of timeless classics can bid on iconic pieces such as the dramatic black satin sleeveless gown worn by Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard and the blue and white cotton gingham pinafore worn by Margaret O’Brien as Tootie Smith in the 1944 musical comedy Meet Me in St. Louis.


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Few of the U.S.’s philanthropic foundations invest their endowment assets—totalling an estimated US$1.1 trillion—to create positive social and environmental change in addition to high returns, potentially limiting or even counteracting the good such organisations do.

Exactly how few isn’t precisely known. But Bridgespan Social Impact, a subsidiary of the New York-based Bridgespan Group along with the Capricorn Investment Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based investment firm founded by Jeff Skoll , the first president of eBay, and the Skoll Foundation, also in Palo Alto, attempted to “get the conservation started,” with a study of 65 foundations with a total of about US$89 billion in assets, according to Mandira Reddy, director at Capricorn Investment Group.

The top-line conclusion: 5% of the primarily U.S.-based foundations surveyed invest their assets for impact. Most surprising is that 92% of these organisations, which have assets ranging from US$11 million to US$16 billion, are active members of impact investing groups, such as the Global Impact Investing Network and Mission Investors Exchange.

“If there’s any pool of capital that is best suited for impact investing, it would be this pool of capital along with family office money,” Reddy says.

The study was also conducted “to draw attention to the opportunity,” she said.

“We want to redefine what philanthropy can achieve. There is massive potential here just given the scale of capital.”

Foundations are required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to grant 5% of their assets each year to charity; in practice they have granted slightly more in the last 10 years—an average of 7% of their assets, according to Delaware-based FoundationMark, which tracks the investment performance of about 97% of all foundation assets.

The remaining assets of these foundations are invested with the intention of earning the “highest-possible risk-adjusted financial returns,” the report said. Those investments allow these organizations to grant funds often in perpetuity.

Capricorn and Bridgespan argue that more foundations, however, need to “align their capital with their missions,” and that they can do so while still achieving high returns.

“Why wait to distribute resources far into the future when there are numerous urgent issues facing the planet and communities today,” argue the authors of a report on the research, which is titled, “Can Foundation Endowments Achieve Greater Impact.”

The fact most of the foundations surveyed are very familiar with impact investing and yet haven’t taken the leap “highlights the persistently untapped opportunity,” the report said. It details some of the barriers foundations can face in shifting to impact, and how and why to overcome them.

Hurdles to making a shift can include “beginner’s dilemma”—simply not knowing where to start—and a misperception on the part of large foundations that impact investing is “too niche,” offering opportunities that are too small for the amount of capital they need to allocate. Other foundations are too stretched and don’t have the resources to add capabilities for making impact investments, the report said.

One of the biggest concerns is financial performance. Some foundation leaders, for instance, worry impact investments lead to so-called concessionary returns, where a market rate of return is sacrificed to achieve a social or environmental benefit. Those investments exist, but there are also plenty of options that offer financial returns.

The authors make a case for foundations to “go big,” into impact to realize the best outcomes, and to take a portfolio approach, meaning integrating impact principles into how they approach all investments. To make this happen, foundations need to incorporate impact into their investment policy statements, which determine how they allocate assets.

It will be difficult for foundations that want to shift their assets to impact to pull out of investments such as private-equity or venture-capital funds that can have holdings periods of a decade. But with a policy statement in place, a foundation’s investment team can reinvest this long-term capital once it is returned into impact investing options, she says.

“The transition doesn’t happen overnight,” Reddy says. “Even if there is a commitment for an established foundation that is already fully invested, it takes several years to get there.”

The Skoll Foundation, established in 1999, revised its investment policy statement in 2006 to incorporate impact. According to the report, the foundation initially divested of investments that were not in sync with its values, and then gradually, working with Capricorn Investment, began exploring impact opportunities mostly in early-stage companies developing solutions to climate change.

“As the team gained more knowledge and experience in this work, and as more investment opportunities arose, the impact-aligned portfolio expanded across different asset classes, issue areas, and fund managers,” the report said.

As of 2022, 70% of the Skoll Foundation’s assets are in impact investments addressing climate change, inclusive capitalism, health and wellness, and sustainable markets.

Capricorn, which manages US$9 billion for foundations and institutional investors through impact investments, constructs portfolios across asset classes. In private markets, this can include venture, private equity, private credit, real estate, and infrastructure. There are also impact options in the public markets, in both stocks and bonds.

“Across the spectrum there are opportunities available now to do this in an authentic manner while preserving financial goals,” Reddy says.

Of the foundations surveyed, about 15, including Skoll, have 50% or more of their assets invested for impact. Others include the Lora & Martin Kelley Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Russell Family Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

Though not part of the study, the California Endowment just announced it was going “all in” on impact. The organisation has US$4 billion in assets under management, which likely makes it the largest foundation to undergo the shift, according to Mission Investors Exchange.

Although the researchers looked at a fairly small sample set of foundations, Reddy says it provides data “that is indicative of what the foundation universe” might look like.

“We cannot tell foundations how to invest and that’s not the intent, but we do want to spread the message that it is quite possible to align their assets to impact,” she says. “The idea is that this becomes a boardroom conversation.”


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