A dress which bears a strong resemblance to the custom white gown worn by and later stolen from Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has been found. According to an official with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office, the dress was discovered in the same hotel from which it was stolen and had been placed underneath of a bathroom sink. TMZ says the custom dress was returned by the thief after he discovered that the pearls on the gown were fake.
According to TMZ, a person claiming to have stolen Nyong’o’s dress contacted the website with information about where the dress could be found. The man claimed that he took the dress from Nyong’o’s hotel room after noticing the door was not fully closed. After taking some pearls off the dress, he had them appraised only to discover the gems were fake, at which point he returned the gown by stuffing the dress and garment bag into a trash bag. He placed the bundle across from the gym in the same hotel. TMZ contacted the LAPD, whose detectives discovered Nyong’o’s gown, encased in a black garment bag, and hidden under a bathroom counter in the hotel.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Nicole Nishida would not confirm if the dress found on Friday is, in fact, the pearl-covered gown designed by Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein and worn by Nyong’o, 31, while she presented at the Academy Awards on Sunday. Nishida would say only that the dress “greatly resembles” the Nyong’o gown which had gone missing, and that detectives are working to verify that the dress discovered is the dress which was stolen.
Although the pearls on Nyong’o’s dress were not real, the thief could still be charged with grand theft and burglary, said LAPD spokesperson Michael White. The suspect, however, remains at large.
A representative for the Twelve Years a Slave actress reported the gown stolen late Wednesday from Nyong’o’s room at the London Hotel. Although Women’s Wear Daily reports that the value of the dress, constructed of silk lame on which 6,000 crystal pearls were attached, is undetermined, officials say the value of the dress is $150,000. Experts believe that if sold on the black market, it could net much more.
Fashion commentator and style expert Mary Alice Stephenson told the Washington Post that there is a big market for stolen goods among private collectors. “Some of these dresses have global fame as big as any Van Gogh,” she added.
Women’s Wear Daily received a statement from the designer of the dress, who said that the entire staff of Calvin Klein was very happy upon learning that the dress had possibly been recovered. Costa says that the theft and recovery of the dress worn to the Oscars by Nyong’o “represents an important moment for the brand.” The company intends to restore and archive the dress once it is returned.
Nyong’o, who won her Oscar in 2014, told Women’s Wear Daily that she is “happy” that the dress may have been recovered. She described the gown as “a timeless and priceless piece of art.” Nyong’o was highly praised for the dress, which she wore with diamonds from Chopard, at the Oscars on Sunday. Since her breakout role in Twelve Years a Slave, she has become a high point of Hollywood’s red carpet and is often praised for her fashion choices.
By Jennifer Pfalz