Fourteen of Princess Diana's
gowns will be auctioned off in Toronto, ostensibly for the benefit of the National Ballet School of Canada.
Soon after her 1997 purchase, Mrs Dunkel set up The Peoples Princess Charitable Foundation Inc in Tampa, its stated purpose to preserve and display the Diana dresses, and thereby to support the charities closest to Dianas heart. Mrs Dunkel created an exhibition, Dresses For Humanity, which travelled the globe and for a time resided in Kensington Palace, where visitors could pay to see them. She had, she told NBCs Today Show in 2001, raised millions for charity through the dresses.
It is hard to challenge this assertion since, though obliged by the US tax authorities to file annual returns stating income and disbursements to charity, none have been forthcoming from Mrs Dunkels Peoples Princess Charitable Foundation for some time. The last listed accounts, for 2006-07 and filed in 2008, show liabilities of more than $1 million, while adding the cautionary note: Expenses and other operating costs exceeded donations and contributions. Therefore no grants or allocations were able to be made.
But instead Ms Dunkel racked up at least $2.5million in debt through failed exhibitions, and tomorrow faces the embarrassment of auctioning off all 14 dresses to pay off her creditors.