Greek Heirlooms Fetch $14 Million

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; 4:10 PM

LONDON -- Hundreds of heirlooms once owned by the former Greek royal family sold Wednesday for $14 million, Christie's auction house said, despite appeals from the government in Athens to halt the sale.

The most expensive item on the first day of a two-day auction was a pair of massive silver Victorian pilgrim flasks, which sold for $1.1 million, the London-based auction house said in a statement. The sale continues Thursday.

Greek Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said he wrote to Christie's on Monday urging the auction house not sell the artifacts _ more than 850 items that originally belonged to King George I of Greece _ saying the artifacts may have been illegally exported from Greece.

However, Christie's said it received no letter and saw no reason for the sale not to go ahead.

Highlights of the sale include giant silver flasks, Chinese jade and a gold Faberge egg worth up to $100,000. Christie's said much of the collection came from the former royal estate at Tatoi, on the northern outskirts of Athens, but declined to identify the seller.

Greece's last monarch, King Constantine II, now 66, was deposed in 1967. In 1991, the Greek government allowed Constantine to remove hundreds of items from Tatoi, which were sold at an auction later that year.

King George I ruled from 1863 until he was assassinated by an anarchist in 1913.

© 2007 The Associated Press