An auction selling clothes and artefacts from Margaret Thatcher’s prime ministerial career has raised more than £3 million.
In a sale hailed as historic by auctioneers at Christie’s in London, the collection of 185 items belonging to the Iron Lady smashed expected bids by thousands of pounds each.
The top selling lot was a model of an American bald eagle awarded to the former premier in 1984 with the message: “W ith best wishes from Ronald Reagan.” It was bought by an online buyer for £266,500 after it was expected to fetch a maximum bid of £8,000.
Second was her red Morocco dispatch box embossed with the cypher of HM Queen Elizabeth II, the words “Prime Minister” and numbered I, which was sold for £242,500 and attracted bidders from as far as South Korea and Malta.
The six-hour auction realised a total of £3,280,475, but an online sale of further items will continue tomorrow.
Christie’s reported the attendance of bidders from 41 countries across five continents and said the sale “sparked international interest with extremely competitive bidding in the saleroom, on the telephones and with clients utilising the opportunity to bid from around the globe online using Christie’s Live”.
The sale took place 25 years after Baroness Thatcher left office and in the year when she would have celebrated her 90th birthday.
Her parliamentary robes were bought for £81,700 while her wedding dress - a midnight blue velvet gown with matching muff worn for her wedding to Dennis Thatcher on December 13 1951 - went for £25,000.
A collection of writings from Winston Churchill also proved a hit with bidders, smashing their estimates, as did personal letters from President Reagan, including one to congratulate her on 11 years in power, and one wishing a belated happy birthday to her husband.
Kicking off the sale, Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer and global president of Christie’s International, told the auction house that he expected “a lot of bidding today, a lot of competition both online and here live in the room”.