The Greek royal family in exile, stripped of almost all of its property after a coup in 1967, is to sell silverware and other heirlooms rescued from one of its palaces in the hope of raising at least £2 million.
The treasures will be auctioned in London in January, Christie's announced yesterday.
The property is formally described as coming from the collection of King George I of the Hellenes, modern Greece's first monarch, who reigned from 1863 to 1913. But the vendor, who refuses to be named, is almost certainly the deposed King Constantine II of Greece, who has lived in London in relatively straitened circumstances for more than 30 years.
The sale is the first public auction of Greek royal property since the monarchy was abolished in 1974. It is to comprise 850 lots, mostly silver, but also exquisite Fabergé ornaments, furniture, jade and paintings.
Constantine, a cousin of Prince Philip and godfather to Prince William, was allowed to remove the objects – many of them gifts to George I from inter-related European royal families – from his favourite palace, Tatoi, in 1991 during a brief thaw in his long-running legal battles with successive Greek governments.
onstantine, now 66, left Greece in 1967 with his family and little more than the clothes they were wearing. His counter-coup against a group of republican army colonels who had seized power failed and the royal family fled to Rome, moving to London in the early 1970s. He was stripped of his crown in 1974.
Successive Greek governments have resisted demands to return royal estates and property to him and it has long been a mystery how he supported himself, his wife, the ex-Queen, Anne-Marie of Denmark, and their five children in England. It is not known whether he moved money out of Greece in the run-up to the coup and it has been commonly assumed that he has lived off gifts from Greek monarchists and the English royal family, to whom he is close.
Small items of silver – sauce boats, salt-cellars and entrée dishes – are priced as low as £100. A total of 264 silver plates from the royal banqueting service will be sold in sets of 12 with estimates of £4,000-£6,000.
The most expensive silver is a pair of giant pilgrim flasks (estimate £80,000-£120,000), made by Garrard in London in 1866 and given to Christian IX of Denmark by the British royal family.
The single most expensive item is an early 20th-century gold-mounted Fabergé clock with an estimate up to £250,000. Constantine's collection contains another 100 pieces of Fabergé, including an egg, boxes and miniature animals.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Greek Royals & the Family Silver
From the Telegraph: