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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Treasure sale breaks UK auction record
lever's music room
Treasures from the sale fetched up to 10m
A treasure-packed mansion entered the record books after most of its contents were sold for more than 9m.

Experts estimated the sale of fine art and antiques collected at Thornton Manor, Wirral, Merseyside, would fetch around 5m.

But as the sale headed towards closure on Thursday, auctioneers Sotheby's reported takings had almost reached 10m.

With bidding still continuing, the auction smashed the previous UK house contents sale record of 8.3m.


To set a new auction record for a house sale is an historic event

James Miller, deputy chairman Sotheby's

Deputy chairman of Sotheby's Europe James Miller said: "To set a new auction record for a house sale is an historic event.

"The response from buyers has been overwhelming."

About 12,000 people have flocked to the hall, the former home of the soap magnate William Lever, since the house opened its doors last week.

Worldwide bids

Lindsay Drewett, a Sotheby's spokeswoman, said: "We have received bids from people who live a quarter of a mile away and many who sent in bids from the Middle East and the United States."

The most expensive lot in the sale so far was also the oldest object on display.

Valuers had expected the 1604 James I walnut and inlaid chest to fetch up to 80,000, but the item was sold for 350,000.

flaming june
A study for Flaming June sold for 104,700
Another top-selling lot was the 24-seater dining table once used by Napoleon III which was bought for 322,500.

A portrait of a boy by Dutch artist Nicolas Maes went under the hammer for 333,500 and the same buyer also splashed out 104,700 for Lord Leighton's study for 'Flaming June'.

Lever, the first Viscount Leverhulme, filled several homes with paintings, furniture and objets d'art.

The collections were later merged in Thornton Manor, the family home in the village of Thornton Hough, Wirral.

Lord Leverhulme died in 1925 and was succeeded by a son and a grandson, Philip Lever, who left three daughters when he died last July.

His death prompted the sale of Thornton Manor and all of its contents.

Sotheby's set the UK record for a house contents sale last year when they raised 8.3m from an auction at Benacre Hall, Suffolk.

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