Beatles gifts to Spike Milligan go under hammer

Wed Nov 26, 2008 7:36am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Christmas cards from George Harrison and a poem by Paul McCartney were among the top selling lots at an auction of British comedian Spike Milligan's personal belongings in London.

A collection of Christmas cards sent to Milligan by former Beatle Harrison sold for 7,200 pounds ($11,020) after being estimated at just 500 to 700 pounds, while a poem by Harrison's band mate McCartney fetched 6,000 pounds, way above its top estimate of 2,000 pounds.

Other popular lots included an archive of Milligan's wartime diaries, which went for 6,000 pounds, while a copy of "The Primal Scream" by Arthur Janov, given to Spike by another former Beatle John Lennon, fetched 4,200 pounds.

But an 1833 Broadwood Grand Piano, often played by McCartney who was Milligan's friend and neighbor, sold for just 480 pounds after being estimated at 2,000 to 3,000 pounds.

The collection, "The private world of Spike Milligan," was put up for auction at Bonhams on Tuesday evening by Milligan's wife, Shelagh, who said she no longer has enough space to store it all.

Spike Milligan, who died six years ago aged 83, was a comedian, musician, poet and playwright. He shot to fame in the 1950s, writing and starring in the popular radio comedy series the "Goon Show," alongside Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)