June 23, 2011 / 8:37 AM / in 6 years

Author Jeffrey Archer eyes million-pound charity auction

LONDON (Reuters) - He is best known as an author, Conservative politician and one-time prisoner, but Jeffrey Archer is also a keen auctioneer who aims to break his own record for a single sale at Christie’s in London on Monday.

<p>British author Jeffrey Archer poses for a photograph in his flat in London May 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett</p>

On offer at the charity sale are a handbag belonging to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a ball used in the 2003 rugby world cup final which England won and a stopwatch that recorded Roger Bannister’s historic sub-four-minute mile.

The proceeds from the sale go to charities selected by the contributing celebrities and prominent figures in politics and sport (bit.ly/j0vpNA).

“We are aiming to raise a million (pounds),” Archer, 71, told Reuters.

“I’ve done around 1,000 charity auctions in the last 30 years and my record is over 600,000 pounds ($971,160) and I want to break that,” he said. Over his career wielding the gavel he has raised nearly 40 million pounds for charity.

Asked what it took to be a good auctioneer, Archer replied: “You want to be a bit of an actor, a performer.”

Among the items Archer has contributed to the auction are first editions of all of his books, which he said might interest buyers in India, where he has a particularly strong following.

He also donated one of three stopwatches used to record British athlete Bannister’s record-breaking run in 1954 when he became the first person to be officially recorded running a mile in under four minutes.

The other two are owned by universities, and Archer said he expected the watch to fetch around 100,000 pounds and attract strong bidding from U.S. collectors in particular.

Arguably the star lot on the night will be Thatcher’s handbag, which Archer, author of bestselling books including “Kane and Abel” and “Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less”, also sees making six figures.

Proceeds from that lot will be divided between Combat Stress, The British Forces Foundation and Debra, a charity for sufferers of the skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa.

Further highlights include a trip to the Monaco Grand Prix in 2012, including VIP guest passes, starting grid access and four nights at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

It was donated by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone with proceeds to benefit Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

The following evening at Christie’s Archer will sell off some of his own art collection, including an 1878 painting by Claude Monet valued at 1.2-1.7 million pounds.

“It’s a very good time (to sell),” he said. “The Chinese and Russians are collecting for the first time. I‘m selling 10 pct of my collection -- at the age of 70 I decided I wouldn’t live forever!”

The collection is expected to fetch around 5 million pounds.

($1 = 0.618 British Pounds)

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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