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Last Updated: Monday, 28 January 2008, 13:52 GMT
Mitterrand belongings up for sale
Former French President Francois Mitterrand in 1990
Suits, ties, shifts and shoes are among the items on sale
Hundreds of items of clothing, gifts and furniture that belonged to former French President Francois Mitterrand are to be auctioned.

They include wool designer suits, hats, a dressing gown, a piggy bank and a crocodile-skin briefcase that was a gift from Cuba's Fidel Castro.

The sale was arranged by Mitterrand's widow, Danielle, who hopes to raise funds for her human rights charity.

Most items have price estimates ranging from 20 euros ($30; 15) to 450 euros.

"We pitched the prices low so that all the French people who loved Mitterrand can make bids," sales organiser Benedicte Blondeau-Wattel told Reuters news agency.

Mitterrand was France's longest serving president, holding office from 1981 until 1995. He died from cancer in 1996, and since then his widow, now 83, has stored his belongings in her Paris flat.

"She decided to sell many of their belongings to raise money for her foundation, but she is keeping hold of some items, such as the dress she wore for her husband's [presidential] investiture," said Ms Blondeau-Wattel.

Foreign gifts

Among the 368 lots up for auction on Tuesday are about 100 shirts, about 60 suits, ties, shoes, scarves and even a nightgown.

A pair of black slippers embroidered with a red rose, a lawyer's robe, and suits bearing the insignia of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour are also up for sale.

The collection includes gifts from Mr Castro, Barbara Bush, and from Mitterrand's travels to the Philippines, Bangladesh, Oman, Russia and Mexico.

The most expensive item, at 4,000 euros, is a set of four chairs and a coffee table.

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