Duke of Windsor's desk sells for $415,000
February 21, 1998
Web posted at: 11:37 p.m. EST (0437 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The desk on which Britain's King Edward VIII signed his 1936 abdication to the throne was sold Saturday for $415,000.
The 18th century mahogany desk was perhaps the most prized of the 3,311 separate items from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor collection being auctioned at Sotheby's in New York.
The desk was the most expensive item to be sold so far in the auction that has netted $6.7 million for Sotheby's. Saturday was the third day of the scheduled nine-day auction.
Sotheby's had estimated that the 1755 George III mahogany library table would sell for up to $50,000. The desk's buyer was an anonymous phone bidder.
"That's a big price," said Diana Brooks of Sotheby's. "This is a wonderful piece of furniture and it has a plaque, but it's all about history."
The Duke of Windsor gave up throne in 1936 after serving less than a year to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcee. The duke, the uncle of Queen Elizabeth, died in 1972, and she died in 1986.
The sale has not inspired the frantic bidding wars waged during the 1996 auction of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' belongings. But it has brought in triple the revenue that was expected.
This painting fetched almost $180,000
Items have ranged from a wedding picture of the duke's sister which went for $700 to a gold medal the duke received to mark the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary in 1936 that sold for $53,250.
A Cecil Beaton painting of Wallis Simpson serving cocktails fetched almost $180,000, 25 times Sotheby's estimated bid.
In Thursday's opening session, a San Francisco couple spent
$29,900 for a piece of wedding cake preserved from the couple's 1937 marriage.
A recorded speech Edward gave explaining his reasons for abdicating was purchased earlier this week for $3,500.
"It's my 50th birthday present and it's for my kids," said Pamela Kaufman. "It's a piece of England and I'm proud to say it's a piece of England that's going back to England."
The estate, originally left to charity, was bought in 1986 by businessman Mohammed Al-Fayed. Proceeds from the auction will benefit a charity in the name of Al-Fayed's son, Dodi Fayed, who was killed with Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris in last August.
Correspondent Cynthia Tornquist contributed to this report.