On June 27th, Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers auctioned the estate of famed fashion designer, Oleg Cassini. Cassini is renowned for dressing many important ladies in the ’50s and ’60s including Jacqueline Kennedy and, of course, Grace Kelly. A part of the estate sold is four letters sent by then Miss Kelly.
Prior to marrying Prince Rainier, Academy Award winner, Grace was briefly reportedly engaged to Oleg. Grace’s family never approved of Cassini and the engagement was called off. Cassini was a playboy who later called dating Grace “the greatest, most exhilarating campaign of my life.” Grace went on to marry Prince Rainier and become the Princess of Monaco and Oleg claimed fame in the USA for designing for Jacqueline Kennedy, fame that was contested by some who dubbed Cassini as a Givenchy imitator. Cassini famouly responded saying: “What is more important, the reality or the perception? I am perceived to be an important designer. It’s enough for me.”
While the couple was dating in 1954, Grace wrote several letters to Oleg including the four she wrote from the Hotel Bel-Air where the future princess indicated that she wasn’t happy about her room in one of the letters. In another letter Grace invites her boyfriend to her family’s vacation home in Ocean City. Oleg would end up calling the week he spent in Ocean City with Grace’s family the worst week of his life.
One of letters also shows Grace’s response to Oleg’s jealousy over Bing Crosby. In it she says: “Bing is a wonderful person … I hope he will be our friend for many years. I told you he said he was in love with me – but there are many people that he feels that way about and after the emotional strain of playing Country Girl this was only natural… I have very few friends here – please don’t ask me to give up their friendships.”
The letters were estimated at $5,000 to $8,000 but were sold for $12,500 with buyer’s premium. It’s very touching to get this insight into Princess Grace’s life before meeting Prince Rainier. Some reports say that HSH regretted breaking her engagement off with Oleg Cassini in later year, but whether that was true or not, we’ll never know. In the end, it’s interesting to think about the irony that is life when the same girl that said in one of her letters “I think I’d rather have a ring instead of an automobile” was married to the Prince of Monaco within two years and lived a life of opulence with an endless array of galas and jewels.
For more on the letters, visit Doyle.com
Photos of Grace Kelly: Pinterest. Pictures of the letters are courtesy of Doyle Auctions.