PRESS RELEASE | LONDON
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Property from the Collection of The Right Honourable
The Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM, FRS
LONDON, DECEMBER 2015
London – Christie’s will offer Mrs Thatcher: Property from the Collection of The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM, FRS in December 2015. In the year that ‘The Iron Lady’ would have celebrated her 90th birthday, approximately 350 historic and personal lots will be offered across two landmark sales: a flagship auction presenting 150 lots will take place in London at Christie’s headquarters on Tuesday 15 December, and an online only sale comprising 200 lots will open for bids on Thursday 3 December and run for two weeks until 16 December. These sales are taking place 25 years after Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) left Office, at the end of her 11 year high profile tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979-1990).
Providing public and private insights into the trajectory of a political titan, these sales present items relating to Margaret Thatcher’s time in Office, including her red leather Prime Ministerial Dispatch box (estimate: £3,000-5,000), signed copies of key speeches and an award presented to her from President Ronald Reagan,alongside jewellery, clothes and handbags. Among the most personal lots is Mrs Thatcher’s wedding outfit, as well as much loved early English porcelain, silver and gold boxes. The most valuable lot is an Art Deco emerald and diamond necklace by Chaumet (estimate: £120,000-180,000). The property is being sold on behalf of beneficiaries of Baroness Thatcher’s estate as part of the arrangements following her death in 2013.
These auctions present unique opportunities, across price levels, for collectors around the world to acquire property from the longest serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 20th century and the only woman to have held Office to date. Estimates range from £200 up to £180,000.
On 13 December, 1951, at the age of 26, Margaret Roberts married Denis Thatcher at Wesley’s Chapel in the West End of London, becoming Mrs Thatcher. Marking the start of the couple’s married life together, the wedding outfit will be offered on 15 December, comprising Mrs Thatcher’s midnight blue velvet wedding dress, with a sweetheart neckline and long sleeves, labelled Constance Gowns and Suits, Old Bexley; a blue velvet soft brimmed cap with a curled pink ostrich feather and a blue velvet muff, with an Art Deco double clip silver and marcasite brooch (estimate: £10,000-15,000, illustrated right). This outfit is said to be inspired by Gainsborough’s celebrated portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. The wedding reception was held at 5 Carlton Gardens, the home of Sir Alfred Bossom, one of Margaret Thatcher’s earliest and greatest supporters.
THE PRIME MINISTER (1979-1990)
Highlights from Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister are led by her red leather Prime Ministerial Dispatch Box, embossed with the royal cypher of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, inscribed ‘Prime Minister’ and numbered ‘1’ (estimate: £3,000-5,000, illustrated right). A piece of political history, the sale also includes a signed and bound copy of ‘A Grand Finale, The Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher’s Last Speech As Prime Minister’, House of Commons, 22nd November 1990 (estimate: £500-800).
MARGARET THATCHER & RONALD REAGAN: THE ‘SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP’
Illustrating the high regard in which Margaret Thatcher was held in America and specifically by President Ronald Reagan is a 20th century Kaiser bisque figure of an American bald eagle, modelled by Gerd Pitterkoff (estimate: £5,000-8,000, illustrated left). The inscription reads ‘Presented to the Hon. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain for staunch and spirited support of the market economy principle. The Award was presented by the Hon. Walter H. Annenberg with the best wishes from Ronald Reagan Pre sident of the United States June 13th 1984, presented at the Foreign Office 10 Downing Street.’
POWER DRESSING & ‘HANDBAGGING’
The daughter of a professional dressmaker, Margaret Thatcher was “brought up to know the importance of cut” and recognised the potential power of fashion to enhance, project and mirror individual stature, as well as its role in commerce for the country stating “anything I can do to heighten the spotlight on British fashion, I do…” (Vogue Interview, August 1985). Wearing carefully selected outfits, her look became synonymous with ‘power dressing.’ These sales present an extraordinary array of immaculate attire worn on countless historic occasions throughout Margaret Thatcher’s life.
Highlights include: the iconic ‘Tank’ raincoat by Aquascutum worn during a visit to British Forces at a NATO training ground near Fallingbostel, Germany in September 1986 (estimate: £10,000-20,000, including the beige silk headscarf, with ‘Hôtel Ritz, Paris’ into the border, illustrated below); a black and white houndstooth tweed wrap, that reverses to fuschia pink, which was worn during her visit to Washington in 1988 (estimate:£800-1,200, captured in the photograph of Margaret Thatcher with President Reagan above and right); and a camel-coloured cashmere coat with a stranded mink collar by Aquascutum that she wore on her official visit to Moscow in March, 1987 (estimate: £1,500-2,500).
‘Power Dressing’ outfits include a suit of Royal blue wool crêpe by Aquascutum which was worn in parliament when Mrs Thatcher was serving as Prime Minister, circa 1989-90 (estimate: £2,000-3,000, illustrated above) and a grey wool suit by Francois Neckar which is depicted in the Norman Parkinson portrait (illustrated page 1), complete with two associated blouses of printed grey silk, one with a rouleaux ribbon necktie (estimate: £800-1,200). Among the evening attire is a black cocktail suit by Tomasz Starzewski that Margaret Thatcher wore to her 70th birthday party at Claridge’s, October 1995, which was attended by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II (estimate: £1,000-2,000, illustrated above right). Woven with baroque motifs, the suit is trimmed with outsized pearl and paste floral buttons with a matching evening skirt.
‘Handbagging’ is a verb which the Oxford English Dictionary notes was ‘coined in the 1980s by Julian Critchley, Conservative MP, with reference to Margaret Thatcher’s ministerial style in cabinet meetings’, the dictionary defines it as ‘(Of a woman) verbally attack or crush (a person or idea) ruthlessly and forcefully’. The sales present a number of Mrs Thatcher’s handbags, with the auction on 15 December including a classic navy blue leather handbag by Launer, London, which will be offered together with a Washington University silk scarf (estimate: £2,000-3,000, illustrated left).
The jewellery to be offered in the auction on 15 December is led by an exquisite Art Deco emerald and diamond necklace by Chaumet, circa 1930 (estimate: £120,000-180,000, illustrated left). A firm favourite of Mrs Thatcher’s was a George III diamond flower brooch, circa 1800 (estimate: £8,000-10,000, illustrated right). Margaret Thatcher was widely photographed wearing this brooch both in Britain and abroad, and is wearing the brooch in her official portrait which hangs at 10 Downing Street. Pavé set throughout, the brooch comprises old cushion, pear and circular-cut diamonds.
Margaret Thatcher was rarely seen without a string of pearls which became her trademark. This sale includes a two-row cultured pearl necklace, composed of sixty-six and sixty-nine cultured pearls (estimate: £1,000-1,500, illustrated left).
Providing an insight into Margaret Thatcher’s private world, the sale features 18th, 19th and 20th century English porcelain, glass, gold boxes and silver. Baroness Thatcher’s personal penchant for collecting early porcelain is highlighted by a charming Chelsea plate, circa 1760, which is hand painted with exotic birds, within shell and scalloped pink panelled and gilt-edged borders (estimate: £800-1,200, illustrated right).
Margaret Thatcher also collected British porcelain figures of both statesmen and people from military history. One of her favourites among the group was The Latham Centrepiece, Albuhera, 18.6.1811, by Michael Sutty (estimate: £600-1,000, illustrated left). Gold boxes include a striking Swiss enamelled gold snuff-box, with malachite green enamel decoration (estimate: £6,000-8,000, illustrated right). Other charming small boxes which will be offered include a wide selection by Halcyon Days, with estimates from £300.
The online only sale will open for bids on Thursday 3 December and run for two weeks until 16 December, the day after the London auction takes place at Christie’s headquarters on 15 December. Comprising 200 lots, with estimates starting from £200, this sale will provide a wealth of further opportunities for international collectors.
Highlights include a small Fendi holdall of black canvas, with gilt hardware and an Aquascutum silk scarf with emerald green border and houndstooth centre (estimate: £700-1,000, illustrated page 4) and a glamorous dress and matching coat of shot fuschia pink silk by Tomasz Starzewski which was made for Margaret Thatcher in 2007 (estimate: £500-800, illustrated page 4). The array of jewellery offered in this online sale includes a single row cultured pearl necklace, composed of sixty-nine cultured pearls (estimate: £500-800).
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Images available on request
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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.
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