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Colin Firth's Pride and Prejudice wet shirt fetches tidy sum

March 6, 2024

A costume including the shirt that the actor wore while dipping in a pond for an adaptation of the classic "Pride And Prejudice" has sold for £25,000. Several other famous garments fetched hefty sums at the same auction.

A costume handler arranges Colin Firth's 'wet-shirt' costume as Mr Darcy in the TV series Pride and Prejudice, 1995, at Kerry Taylor Auctions in London
Thie shirt is the most famous part of the costume, which also included trousers, a velvet jacket, and bootsImage: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo/picture alliance

A London auction has sold an outfit worn by actor Colin Firth in a television version of English novelist Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" for more than twice its expected value.

The ensemble — including Firth's famous swim-soaked shirt — fetched £20,000 (about €23,400; $25,450) in the auction, plus a £5,000 buyer's premium. The auction also featured garments worn by numerous other celebrities for television and cinema.

Why is the costume so famous?

The sequence sees Firth's character Mr. Darcy swimming in a pond before emerging and encountering his future true love, Elizabeth Bennet. It was once voted the most memorable television moment in UK television history.

The segment depicts an awkward conversational moment for the pair, neither wishing to draw attention to Darcy's drenched and disheveled appearance.

Script-writer Andrew Davies said the scene — not part of Austen's original novel — was never intended to highlight a sexual connection between Elizabeth and Darcy. Instead, he said, it was intended as "an amusing moment in which Darcy tries to maintain his dignity while improperly dressed and sopping wet."

The romantic soaking was later referenced in the movies "Love, Actually" and  "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason." More recently, it was reimagined in the Netflix series "Bridgerton."

Firth's boots, moleskin breeches and a velvet waistcoat were included in the auction lot, which had a pre-sale estimate of £10,000.

Why were the items on sale?

Proceeds from the sale will go to the Bright Foundation, an arts education charity.

Other items that went on sale in the same auction at London's Kerry Taylor Auctions include a 1950s Christian Dior taffeta ball gown worn by Madonna in the 1996 movie "Evita," which sold for  £40,000.

Johnny Depp's Ichabod Crane costume from the film "Sleepy Hollow" raised £24,000.

The attire was provided by Academy Award-winning stage clothing designer John Bright through his costume house, Cosprop.

rc/ab (dpa, AP)