June 28, 2011 / 10:55 AM / 8 years ago

Thatcher handbag fetches $40,000 at charity auction

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A handbag belonging to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sold for 25,000 pounds ($40,000) at a charity auction late Monday, Christie’s said.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher waves from her front doorstep as she returns home after leaving hospital, in London November 1, 2010. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Best-selling author and former Conservative politician Jeffrey Archer was wielding the gavel at the auctioneer’s London showrooms at a sale where proceeds went to the charity chosen by each contributing sportsman, politician or musician.

Top price on the night was paid for the chief timekeeper’s stop watch that recorded Roger Bannister’s first four-minute mile in 1954.

Donated by Archer himself, it fetched 97,250 pounds and proceeds will go to the Oxford University Athletics Club.

Archer had said before the sale that he expected Thatcher’s handbag, which she owned for over 30 years, to sell for around 100,000 pounds, but in the end it fetched a quarter of the amount.

It was pictured with the former prime minister alongside U.S. President Ronald Reagan during her visit to the United States in 1985, and the money raised will go to Combat Stress, The British Forces Foundation and Debra.

A signed Fender Telecaster guitar donated by Eric Clapton fetched 15,000 pounds and a hospitality package to next year’s Monaco Grand Prix, given by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, sold for 34,850 pounds.

Overall the sale raised 402,100 pounds, short of what Archer had hoped for. The amateur auctioneer had aimed to beat his own single sale record and make a million pounds.

Later Tuesday at Christie’s, Archer will sell off some of his 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),” Archer told Reuters before the sale. “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.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato

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