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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 01:45 GMT
Dome hamster fetches 3,000
Brent Pollard
Brent Pollard with his newly-acquired Hamster
Bric-a-brac from the Millennium Dome, including a six-foot tall hamster, sold for thousands of pounds at the first of four auctions on Tuesday.

More than 15,000 items from the former visitor attraction will go under the hammer, with the money raised being used to help pay off outstanding bills.

The auctioneers hope to raise about 5m from the sale.

A potential buyer examines a lot at the Dome
More than 15,000 items will be sold over four days
The Dome closed at the end of 2000 after a controversial 12 months as a visitor attraction.

The six -foot-tall fibreglass hamster, complete with 3ft wedge of plastic cheese, was bought by father-of-three Brent Pollard, from Kent, for 3,000.

He later admitted that he had intended to spend only 250 but had got carried away.

"My wife will think I am mad," said Mr Pollard, who intends to give the hamster pride of place in the visitor attraction he runs at Paddock Wood.

The giant heart from the Body Zone went for 1,500, the brain sold for 1,150 and the eye for 750, while the front half of a flower-power mini car pulled in 450.

'Just a vase'

Another popular item was a life-size figure of a depressed England football supporter.

It was snapped up for 900 by Scottish football fan Tony Cochrane.

He said he would display it in his dance club in Aberdeen "every time England lose".

Another punter eyes up a bargain
The Dome: Going, going, gone
John Judson, senior auctioneer with the Henry Butcher company which is organising the sale, was thrilled with the public's response.

"It's absolutely amazing and the first day has gone very well. I've been surprised at how high some of bidding has gone."

An engraved crystal dish went for 1,700, prompting Mr Judson to call out, "It's just a vase," during the bidding.

'Sabotage'

More than 2,400 lots were sold on Tuesday, raising about 200,000, but the serious money for some of the Dome's larger attractions are to be sold over the next three days.

Items for sale include everything from cutlery, costumes and crockery to computers, office furniture and broadcast equipment.

Despite hopes by the Labour Government that the Dome would be a major success, it failed to attract the visitors numbers originally predicted and had to rely on financial help from the Millennium Commission to remain open.

Last weekend, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, the former chief executive of the Dome, accused the government of sabotaging the attraction by stripping it of the contents that could allow it to re-open to tourists.

The future of the Dome is still unknown and the government is seeking new bidders for the attraction after rejecting a proposal from a consortium that wanted to turn it into a high-tech business centre.

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See also:

26 Feb 01 | UK Politics
New calls for Dome minister to go
22 Feb 01 | UK
Hammer horror at the Dome
09 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Dome art goes home
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