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Oh really? Shamed Florida socialite forced to sell Lady Di dresses to pay off ill gotten debts.

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Maureen Dunkel
After the auction Mrs Dunkel then took the dress, with 12 others the Princess wore, on tour around the world.
Maureen Dunkel
After the auction Mrs Dunkel then took the dress, with 12 others the Princess wore, on tour around the world.

Will Maureen Dunkel find a buyer…?

She might have meant well but failed Florida socialite Maureen Dunkel who once commanded much respect and admiration has now been reduced to having to sell items she once acquired in 1997 at the pinnacle of her wealth and status.

Having grown tired of her cumbersome identity, disillusioned with her embittered marriage to Prince Charles and looking forward a fresh start, Lady Di at the time decided to put to auction a number of dresses she had acquired over the years with proceeds designated to going to charities dear to her heart.

Keen to pick up on the bevy of signature items now coming to the market was Maureen Dunkel who was adamant about making her presence known.

At the time the auction which was held at Christie’s NYC fetched over 2.8 million pounds (4.5 US million dollars) for the over 70 couture dresses on sale of which Maureen Dunkel went on to buy a sizable number of.

Yet ironically 16 years on, Maureen Dunkel now finds herself in the unfathomable position of having to sell most of those very dresses in order to stave off ill gotten debts that she has collected over the years due to her lavish over the top spending.

With up to ten dresses now secretly (perhaps an oxymoron at this stage) flown to a London auction house, the Florida socialite hopes to recoup some very much needed money to pay off debts.

Perhaps what’s most ironic about the dresses being sold is how the acquisition of said dresses back in 1997 was used by Dunkel in order to succor favor and social acclaim amongst those who she aspired to galvanize relations with. High on her list were the gentry from Tampa, Palm Beach and Boca Raton.

Offers the UK’s dailymail: In 1998 she created a charity, The People’s Princess Charitable Foundation, with the stated purpose of preserving and displaying Diana’s dresses. Later she wrote a book, the somewhat confusingly titled My Decade With Diana, even though there is no evidence the two women ever met. Priced at $100, it was said that profits from sales would go to charities ‘worldwide’.

She was welcomed with open arms into courtly Southern homes where once she might not have been invited.  Her hair and clothes were perhaps a little flashy for the gentlefolk who accepted her, but she brought with her a gust of glamour and good works as she swept through the door.

‘The dresses gave her social status,’ says Peter Bennett, a former business associate of Mrs Dunkel. ‘She became royalty, somewhat.  Tampa is a small city and she could easily elevate her social status with her purchase.  And she continued to be seen as a do-gooder, displaying the dresses and donating money to charity.’

Yet in what would come back to haunt her, Dunkel who by now had taken to loaning some of the dresses out was having a hard time managing mounting arrears leading her to put a cease to her charity foundations whilst she attempted to raise funds for a more important dire charitable fund- her self preservation. Needless to say her actions and the sudden revocation of her charities brought her ill repute and much embarrassment as she continued to front the impression that she was still operating her charitable entities.

With property deals gone wrong and mounting debts and now forced to deal with bankruptcy court Dunkel was forced to come clean and seek a buyer of the dresses that she had once used as a kind of social currency to gain acceptance in the gilded world of Florida gentry.

Asked to comment on the upcoming sale of her items, the fallen socialite declined to get back to the dailymail’s journalist as it is thought much of her time is now taken up with dealign with her upcoming divorce with her husband….

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