Churchill's cigar sold at auction in London
A huge collection of diaries, letters and even a pristine cigar belonging to Winston Churchill, Britain's World War II prime minister, has sold for more than half a million pounds at a London auction.
The sale, billed by auctioneers Christie's as part of the most important private Churchill collection in the world, raised a total of 577,063 pounds (845,000 million dollars, 695,000 euros) on Wednesday.
The unsmoked Havana cigar, which along with the "V for victory" sign was Churchill's trademark, dates from 1963, when it was given by Churchill to a fellow diner at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. It sold for 2,125 pounds.
And two letters showing how Churchill told his former aide to burn a missive suggesting a truce with the Germans sold for more than four times their original estimate, netting 34,850 pounds together.
In 1940, Eliot Crawshaw-Williams wrote to Churchill pleading that he agree terms with Hitler, to which the British leader replied: "I am ashamed of you for writing such a letter. I return it to you -- to burn and forget."
The sale had been expected to raise about one million pounds, but one of the top items, Churchill's engagement diary for 1939 to 1945 which records meetings with leaders including US president Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin of Russia and Britain's King George VI, was withdrawn from the auction.
The collection was amassed by US publisher Steve Forbes. Christie's is holding a second Churchill sale in New York in December and a third in 2011 in London.
© 2010 AFP