Churchill memorabilia fetches $844,000

Wed Jun 2, 2010 2:25pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - An auction of memorabilia of British wartime leader Winston Churchill, including a cigar and a letter in which he rejects making terms with Adolf Hitler, fetched 577,063 pounds ($844,700) on Wednesday.

The collection was assembled over 30 years by Malcolm S. Forbes Jr., a descendant of the Forbes magazine founder, and is due to be sold in three parts, the first at Christie's in London on Wednesday.

"It's great to see that Churchill's legendary status still remains and continues to grow," said Christies' spokesman Matthew Paton.

The London sale had been expected to raise up to one million pounds, and consisted of about 140 lots.

A collection of Churchill's speeches on free trade raised the most money, selling at 39,650 pounds to an unnamed American buyer. Most other lots went to private British collectors.

Other items included an unsmoked Havana cigar Churchill had given away as a gift, and a letter in which he rejects making terms with Hitler.

That letter, and another from a former assistant private secretary urging him to make terms with Hitler, were priced together with a top estimate of 8,000 pounds, but netted 34,850 pounds.

"I am ashamed of you for writing such a letter. I return it to you -- to burn and forget," Churchill's letter read.

The rest of the collection is due to be sold on December 3 in New York and London in the summer of 2011.

(Writing by Mohammed Abbas: Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)