A HANDBAG belonging to Margaret Thatcher fetched £25,000 when it went under the hammer, auctioned by Lord Archer.
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The Asprey bag, owned by the former prime minister for more than 30 years, was famously pictured in a photograph taken as she walked alongside then US president Ronald Reagan during her visit to the United States in 1985.
The glossy black leather bag had been expected to attract up to £100,000. It was sold for a quarter of that price to an unnamed Cypriot understood to have been a student in Britain during the Iron Lady’s tenure.
A private buyer, he was said to be a “great admirer” of the former Conservative leader.
The handbag was among a number of highly prized items sold at Christie’s, in central London, by amateur auctioneer and author Lord Archer for charitable causes.
In an even larger sale today, around 100 works of art from his personal collection are expected to raise an estimated £5 million.
“The handbag makes you automatically think of Margaret Thatcher,” Lord Archer said.
Lady Thatcher’s daughter Carol, who joined bidders in the packed sale room, said her mother had been “longing to know” how much the bag raised for her “carefully chosen” charities.
“I hope that the highest bidder knows that if he’s into handbagging, he’s got a weapon with quite a track record. After all, my mother invented the verb ‘to handbag’,” she added.
Along with funds raised by lot 216, donated by Lady Thatcher, Lord Archer amassed £12,500 for Lawrence Dallaglio’s match ball from England’s victorious 2003 Rugby World Cup final.
Dallaglio joined applause as the ball - one of five used in the game against Australia - went under the hammer.
Lord Archer donated a treasure of his own - a stopwatch which timed Roger Bannister’s sub-four-minute mile.
The highest value item of the auction went for £97,250, to the delight of the auctioneer and former Conservative party deputy chairman.
Among the other lots on sale were a Fender Telecaster guitar given by Eric Clapton which fetched £15,000 and an Andy Warhol sketch of the late Princess Diana.
The artwork, donated by Mary Archer, sold for £79,250.
The sale of 18 lots raised £402,100 for various charities, Christie’s said.
Among those who donated were Formula One’s Bernie Ecclestone, whose VIP guest passes to the Monaco Grand Prix went for £34,850, and Sir Michael Parkinson, whose cricket bat signed by the victorious 2005 Ashes squad raised £6,250.
The proceeds from the sale of Lady Thatcher’s handbag will go to the British Forces Foundation, mental health charity Combat Stress, and Debra, an organisation dedicated to helping those with the genetic skin blistering condition epidermolysis bullosa.