- Marilyn Van Derbur is selling her pageant crown and matching bracelet at an opening bid of $US20,000 ($AU26,792).
- It is the first time a Miss America crown will be auctioned off.
- Van Derbur plans to donate all proceeds from the auction to teachers in Denver, Colorado.
Marilyn Van Derbur is making history by auctioning off a Miss America crown for the first time, ahead of the pageant’s 100th anniversary in order to help teachers financially affected by the pandemic.
Van Derbur, 84, told The Washington Post that her crown is one of her “most prized possessions.” Anyone who knows a Miss America knows that a crown is the most special thing that she would personally own.”
The 1958 pageant winner will place her Swarovski crystal-covered crown and its matching bracelet on the auction block at an opening price of $US20,000 ($AU26,792).
Van Derbur plans to use the proceeds from the souvenirs, which she initially intended to pass to her daughter, to help disadvantaged teachers in Denver, Colorado.
According to Barnebys, a New Jersey jeweler named Schoppy’s has created all of the Miss America crowns since the beginning of the pageant’s history. The crown is missing four tiny crystals, and the bracelet is the only piece of Miss America jewelry of its kind in existence.
She is also selling her Miss America trophy and a sequined gown by Alfred Bosand that she wore to celebrate the pageant’s 75th anniversary in 1995.
Van Derbur was inspired to sell her prized possessions after film-maker Jay Pitts encouraged her to look into the possibility while interviewing her for a Miss America documentary.
She then contacted Schoppy’s owner David Talarico who told Van Derbur the crown and bracelet could fetch as much as $US40,000 ($AU53,583) and that the original cost to produce the crown was an estimated $US2,500 ($AU3,349).
Van Derbur was taken aback at the time, saying, “I never knew I had a crown and bracelet of such value. It never entered my mind.”
Following the appraisal, Van Derbur said she considered using the potential profit to benefit a good cause.
She told The Post that she chose to donate the revenue to teachers in her hometown of Denver after witnessing the persistence and perseverance of educators during the pandemic.
Van Derbur expressed that she could have made a monetary donation of her own to the chosen charity, but felt that the inclusion of the crown brought added significance to the philanthropic gesture.
“It’s a personal way of showing a special kind of appreciation for people who have pulled together and said, ‘We’re going to keep this country going,'” she told The Post. “This isn’t coming from some bank; this is coming from someone’s heart. I’m giving away something that is of great meaning to me.”
Van Derbur asserted that all the funds would go straight to the teachers for any unexpected expenses needed for COVID protections.
“I can say that with absolute certainty the money will go directly to teachers, for whatever use in their lives they see fit,” she told The Post, adding that the money would also need to be dispersed evenly among its recipients.
“One thing I feel strongly about is that it needs to be equitable. It needs to be fair,” she expressed to the outlet.
Van Derbur is currently working with Denver Public Schools to implement her plan. However, the specifics of the contribution have not yet been determined.
While Van Derbur’s crowning was a seminal moment in her life, she hoped her title would come to have greater meaning after its auction, telling The Post that it was “much more significant to me when I could help change people’s lives.”
Patrons will able to bid from November 4- 7 at the Hollywood & Entertainment Memorabilia Signature Auction.