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Home > Dance History

Margot Fonteyn's ballet costumes are auctioning

Margot Fonteyn's ballet costumes are auctioning

The two costumes - estimated at a combined $10,000 - recall Fonteyn's
fascinating life of dance, romance and South American coups d'etat

"She was always among the immortals as soon as she stepped on stage."

Two costumes worn by the great ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn are auctioning at
PFC Auctions.

Bidding on the two items, each estimated at $5,000, is now open and ends on May

Swan Lake bodice

Designed by Carl Toms. Pale soft net, decorated with costume jewellery.
Handwritten label reads, "FONTEYN Prologue"

A beautifully crafted bodice worn by the ballerina in her unforgettable 1963
performance of Swan Lake reminds us of one of the finest ballet renditions in

"Even today, Fonteyn's performance haunts every production of that ballet. That
is the price an audience must pay for having seen perfection - and for a
privileged generation Fonteyn was exactly that, over and over again" - The
Telegraph, February 22, 1991.

Romeo and Juliet skirt

Designed by Nicholas Georgiadis. White silk organza decorated with fine gold
thread and decoration.

The fine and delicate skirt worn by Fonteyn in 1965's Romeo and Juliet recalls
her stunning partnership with Rudolf Nureyev, in what is regarded as the
greatest ballet duo of all-time.

Nureyev and Fonteyn are rumoured to have been lovers off-stage. The electricity
between the pair kept audiences enraptured, despite Fonteyn being 20 years older
than Nureyev. She had been performing Swan Lake since 1938, the year he was

"When she left the stage in her great white tutu, I would have followed her to
the end of the world," Rudolf Nureyev.


Both costumes originate from the personal collection of Hetty Baynes-Russell -
former ballet dancer, actress and wife of the late British film director Ken

'Strong interest'

"Margot Fonteyn was the stuff of legend, both in her ballet career and personal
life. These rare costumes are a fantastic reminder of her career," comments Paul
Fraser, founder of PFC Auctions.

"Ballet is back in the spotlight, thanks to the cinema screenings of the Royal
Opera House's performances and the BBC's recent showing of Fonteyn's Sleeping
Beauty, so we've already had strong interest in these wonderful costumes."

Previous auction results

At Christie's auction of Margot Fonteyn's personal collection in 2000, a bodice
she wore in Swan Lake sold for ?64,250 ($93,548), beating its ?3,000-5,000
estimate by 1,185% as collectors bought every lot of her rarely seen

Margot Fonteyn

Dame Margot Fonteyn de Arias, DBE (18 May 1919 - 21 February 1991) was the
greatest ballerina of her generation - or perhaps any generation.

Born in Surrey, England and trained from an early age in China, Fonteyn spent
her entire professional career with The Royal Ballet based at the Royal Opera
House in Covent Garden, London.

She made her name performing principal roles in notable productions such as
Giselle, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and The Sleeping Beauty, before becoming an
international star in 1949 during a tour of the United States. She brought
ballet to the masses, achieving a level of fame and acclaim unlike any performer
before her.

Fonteyn was regarded as the perfect physical shape and size for ballet.
Described as an "intensely musical dancer", she combined a flawless line with a
superlative acting ability - often enthralling the audience with a single glance
or expression as much as a graceful pirouette.

In 1961, at the age of 42, many expected Fonteyn to retire. Instead she embarked
on the most remarkable period of her career, forming a legendary partnership
with the young dancer Rudolf Nureyev.

Nureyev had recently defected from the Soviet Union, and was just 24 years old
when the pair performed together for the first time.

Thus began a famous on-and-off stage relationship which would last the rest of
their lives. Rumours of a secret affair were rife.

Upon Fonteyn's retirement in 1979, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her "Prima
Ballerina Assoluta" of The Royal Ballet for her services - making her one of
just 12 women in history to have received the title.

Fonteyn spent much of her later life in Panama, marrying diplomat Dr Roberto
Arias and becoming embroiled in a coup d'etat in 1959 that saw her deported to
the UK for gun smuggling.

She died on February 21, 1991 in Panama City, aged 71.

She is remembered today as one of the most famous performers of the 20th
century, an international star whose passion and grace captivated audiences for
generations. For many, she remains the dancer against whom all others are


About PFC Auctions

PFC Auctions is a boutique online auction business specialising in world class
Art, Antiques and Collectibles.

Based in Guernsey, Channel Islands we have clients in 214 countries around the
world so we are able to promote your auction lots to a global audience.

Our experts have sold over $750m of unique collectibles and have over 250 years
experience between them.

We love what we do and that's reflected in the level of personal service that we
offer. Every consignment, and every consignor, is important to us.

As a PFC Auctions client you can buy and sell with absolute confidence.

For further details on our services please contact us at or
telephone +44 (0) 117 933 9500

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