Victoria's secret: Late queen's bloomers bust record

EDINBURGH Wed Nov 2, 2011 1:04pm EDT

Kate Bain from Lyon and Turnbull auctioneers poses for photographers with a framed pair of silk bloomers undergarments that once belonged to Queen Victoria, during a photocall for the auction of the Forbes Collection in Edinburgh, Scotland October 27, 2011. REUTERS/David Moir

Kate Bain from Lyon and Turnbull auctioneers poses for photographers with a framed pair of silk bloomers undergarments that once belonged to Queen Victoria, during a photocall for the auction of the Forbes Collection in Edinburgh, Scotland October 27, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/David Moir

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Queen Victoria's underwear sold for record prices, but a four-poster bed in which actress Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her eighth honeymoon failed to set bidders at an Edinburgh auction on fire.

One of the world's biggest private collections of 19th century Victoriana, amassed by the Forbes Magazine publishing family, raised 2.2 million pounds ($3.5 million) in the one-day sale at the Lyon and Turnbull auction house in the Scottish capital late Tuesday.

A pair of the late British monarch's monogrammed white silk stockings went for 4,200 pounds amid lively bidding, a pair of black and cream silk mourning stockings was bought for 3,400 pounds, and a framed pair of her silk bloomers brought 9,500 pounds. Lyon and Turnbull Vice-Chairman Paul Roberts said he believed these were record prices.

The top price of 420,000 pounds was paid for The Princess Chained to a Tree, an 1866 painting of a white-robed girl bound to a garden tree, by English artist Edward Coley Burne-Jones, who was closely associated with the latter stages of the pre-Raphaelite movement.

Roberts said there had been bids from around the world, with particular interest in the United States due to the Forbes connection and a fascination with the British royal family.

There had been early anticipation that a lavish Victorian four-poster bed in which the London-born Taylor, who died in Los Angeles last March, had spent her final honeymoon after wedding her seventh husband Larry Fortensky in 1991 (she married Richard Burton twice). But it sold for only 7,500 pounds, well below a predicted upper price of 12,000 pounds.

A wide range of Victoriana was on sale at the auction, ranging through paintings, including a number done by members of the royal family, furniture, houseware and memorabilia.

A renowned painting of Victoria astride her horse with her Scottish servant John Brown holding the reins went for a surprise 120,000 pounds, compared with an estimate of around 30,000. Victoria, whose relationship with Brown has caused comment over the years, commissioned it from a photograph to present to him on his 50th birthday.

Roberts said he believed the Edinburgh sale was successful because it had brought together items in a context in which they blended, including the Forbes family's connection with Scotland.

The founder of the Forbes Publishing house, Bertie, came from the Aberdeen area, worked as a journalist in South Africa during the Boer War and emigrated to the United States in 1903. In 1917 he founded Forbes Magazine which became the bedrock of the family fortune.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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