November 22, 2009 / 8:22 PM / 9 years ago

British royal heirlooms fetch $3.4 million at sale

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Royal heirlooms from the collection of Prince George Duke of Kent, son of King George V, and his wife Princess Marina, fetched 2.1 million pounds ($3.5 million) at an auction late Friday, nearly double pre-sale estimates.

The top price was paid for a pair of George III mahogany hall benches, dating from around 1760, attributed to William and John Linnell, which sold for 187,250 pounds versus a pre-sale estimate of between 30,000-50,000 pounds.

The royal couple married in 1934, and eight years later Prince George was killed when his plane crashed into a mountain in Scotland while he was serving for the Royal Air Force.

His wife found herself needing to raise funds, and in 1947 Christie’s held a three-day auction of the prince’s property which raised 92,300 pounds and generated considerable public interest at the time.

The couple had three children — Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra and Prince Michael.

“We welcomed nearly 700 bidders from around the world,” said Edward Clive, director of Christie’s which held the auction in London.

“Competitive bidding saw most lots exceed their estimates, and the sale itself doubled expectations ... underlining the enduring popularity of Royal provenance.”

While the auction beat estimates, it fell well short of another royal sale from the collection of Princess Margaret in 2006 which raised 13.7 million pounds.

The 200 or so lots on offer ranged from a set of teaspoons valued at 100-200 pounds to a pair of French emerald and enamel ear clips by Cartier valued at 50,000-60,000 pounds.

The auction also included photograph albums of the Russian imperial family that contain informal pictures of the last Czar, Nicholas II, playing tennis and at a hunt.

Princess Marina, the last foreign-born princess to marry into the British royal family, was the daughter of Grand Duchess Helen Vladimirovna of Russia.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White

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