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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 14:00 GMT
28,000 truffle 'dead' and buried
The 28,000 truffle
The truffle is said to be buried in the head chef's garden
A truffle bought for 28,000 ($54,000) by clients of a top London restaurant has been buried after rotting away.

The syndicate from Zafferano in Knightsbridge, said to include Gwyneth Paltrow and Roman Abramovich, bought the 1.9lb Italian truffle last month.

The head chef returned from a holiday to find that, after too many days on display and in the restaurant's safe, the delicacy had been ruined.

The truffle was bought to raise money for the Children in Crisis charity.

It was bought by the restaurant, via satellite link, from an auction in the Italian village of San Miniato, and is understood to have now been buried in the head chef's garden.

It was a beautiful piece of truffle and everybody wanted to see it
Restaurant manager Enzo Cassini
Restaurant manager Enzo Cassini said that the fungus had simply been on display for too long.

"A truffle is like a fruit and can go off very easily. The main problem was that it was left out for people to see," he said.

"People came from as far as Paris to look at it."

Mr Cassini said they were "a bit disappointed" when they discovered the truffle had become inedible.

But the restaurateur said the main thing was its auction had raised money for charity.

"We made so many children happy and we are going to buy an even bigger one next year. People are already searching for it," he said.

Zafferano has also bought 2,000 of truffle to compensate his clients who paid for the original.

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