A rare glimpse inside the Iron Lady's wardrobe

An auction of Margaret Thatcher's possessions gives people a glimpse inside the private aspects of her much-discussed life

Earlier this week, an auction of the Iron Lady's wardrobe raised over £3m following a viewing open to the public. 

Christie's 2015

The auction on 15th December was the first of two sales of Margaret Thatcher's collection by Christie's. It saw the political leader's private belongings spark international interest from 41 countries across five continents. 

The sale of the items coincides with the 25th anniversary of Thatcher leaving office at the end of 11 years, and the year in which she would have celebrated her 90th birthday. As the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century, and the only woman to have held the position to date, the auction results reflect the significance of her place in history. 

The highlight of the auction was a 1980s Kaiser model of an American bald eagle by Gerd Pitterkoff, which was awarded to Thatcher 'with best wishes from Ronald Reagan' in 1984. Despite only being expected to fetch £8,000, thanks to its connection to two historic leaders, the eagle sold for £266,500 after just six minutes of competitive bidding. 

Christie's 2015

After her former private secretary Lord Powell wrote that they were her 'guilty secret' and that 'she loved clothes', it was expected that her outfits would raise the most money but, instead, the most popular items were oddities, decorative objects and personal letters. 

A collection of writings from Winston Churchill proved particularly popular, again reaching high over the estimated value with one collection receiving £32,500. As you'll see from the feature on the sale of Churchill's daughters personal collection in H&A's January issue, the provenance of pieces belonging to renowned leaders can add a huge amount to their value.  

Other surprising highlights of the auction included an iconic red dispatch box, embossed with the cypher of Queen Elizabeth II, the title 'Prime Minister' and numbered 'I', which sold for the second highest price of the auction at £242,500, and personal letters from President Reagan. In one, he wishes Thatcher's husband Denis a belated happy birthday. 

Christie's, 2015

Renowned for the way she dressed, it was no surprise that Thatcher's wardrobe had bidding hands up. Her blue velvet wedding dress, worn when she married Denis Thatcher on 13th December 1951, sold for £25,000.

Other standout clothing lots included her parliamentary robes, which sold for £81,700, a late Victorian diamond brooch that realised £50,000, and an art deco emerald and diamond necklace, which sold for £158,500. 

To view videos of the sale at Christie's website and to find out more about the next auction of Thatcher memorabilia, click here

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