Is the Princess Diana Beanie Baby Worth Anything?
Beanie Babies can get large sums of money, depending on their rarity and condition. But some are not worth as much as collectors think, despite what they see on eBay.
One bear in particular, Princess, created in memory of the late Princess Diana, is controversial in this regard, as its sale listings are often greater than its actual price.
If you have a Princess Diana Beanie Baby, or are thinking of getting one, here's what you need to know.
Princess Diana Spawned Countless Commemorative Items
Known as "the People's Princess," Princess Diana was and still is one of the most popular royals in modern history.
During her lifetime, she was likely the most famous and well-loved royal (aside from Queen Elizabeth). From her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981 to many years after her death in 1997, there was a frenzy for Princess Diana memorabilia.
Personal effects, like her dress collection or her 1985 Ford Escort, bring in the big bucks at auction. Other objects, such as commemorative wedding items or Beanie Babies, can have some value, but they bring in far less.
'Princess the Bear' Was Introduced in 1997
After Princess Diana died on Aug. 31, 1997, Ty introduced "Princess the Bear" in late October of that year. Both her death and the Beanie Baby craze happened at around the same time.
At that time, Princess the Bear sold for $5 to $7 with proceeds from its sale going to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
Ty Made a Limited Run of Bears and Expanded It
Initially, retailers were told they could buy only 12 bears at a time, which added to the item's collectibility. People believed the bears would always be a limited edition. As Beanie Babies and Princess Di were at their peak of popularity at that time, the bear was the collectible to have for fans of both.
But the bears wouldn't stay limited in number for long. Demand for them was so high that Beanie Baby manufacturer Ty increased production. While people got what they wanted (more bears), the mass quantity drove the price down.
Nevertheless, charitable donations from the bear's sale to Diana's foundation was the point. When Ty ceased production on the bears in 1999, it had already donated over $21 million from their sale.
Prices Can, and Do, Vary
Today, there are a lot of Princess bears in the world. Many sellers believe they are worth well into the five or six figures. However, that's not really the case. They are typically $5 to $100, depending on their condition.
In 2017, antiques appraiser Lori Verderam told USA Today, "When you see [a six-figure sum for a bear], that’s not credible because you have to find a sales record for someone (who) actually paid the bill for that. They [the sellers] aren't gonna tell you what it’s really worth because they want you to buy it for the highest price possible."
Currently, the Princess bear is not a huge seller, despite being the 25th anniversary of Diana's death. According to Richard Beale, an appraiser at the United Kingdom auctioning firm Warwick & Warwick, the bears (and most other Beanies) are a dime a dozen.
"Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future, but there’s so much of this stuff out there that there’ll always be more than people who want to purchase it. If you’re a collector, once you’ve got one, you don’t want another one no matter what the price is."
All Hope Is Not Lost
If you have a Princess bear, hope for its value is not lost. Lori Verderame, an American appraiser of antiques and collectibles known as Dr. Lori, suggests holding on to your Beanies, particularly those relating to history. Historical artifacts generally do increase in value over time.
"Anytime you have such big numbers of production, you’re gonna have some [items] that are worth less than others. But because it’s a Beanie Baby, we all think automatically, 'Oh it can’t be worth anything,' and that’s really a mistake."