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Favourite Diana dress may be $100m `snip'

By JAMES BONE AN American doll company hopes to save the lives of 500 million children by cutting up one of the favourite dresses of Diana,...

AN American doll company hopes to save the lives of 500 million children by cutting up one of the favourite dresses of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Great American Doll Company plans to slice the eggshell blue chiffon and lace evening gown into some four million pieces to raise money to inoculate children in developing countries.

``The value of that dress could be $100 million,'' Michael Lam, the company's chairman, said.

Dress fragments, measuring 2 square mm, will be sold over the Internet together with the company's 16in doll of the princess, which wears a miniature version of the design. Customers will pay stg£80 for the doll and a £16 supplement.

The company's website, www.dianadress.com, notes that it costs about 13p to vaccinate a child and values the dress at £12,500 per square inch. ``The main purpose of destroying an actual Princess Diana dress is to generate an awareness of the plight of the world's children, through one of the most profound, moving and adored individuals of the late 20th century,'' the company said.

Mr Lam bought the Catherine Walker dress for £23,000 at the 1997 charity sale of the princess's wardrobe.

Mr Lam, however, is clearly ambivalent about destroying one of the princess's prized possessions. The website offers the chance for a single buyer to save the dress by matching the total value of the fragments before it is cut up.

(The Times, London)