Seven hundred unique possessions from the former Devon home of the 'Queen of Crime' Dame Agatha Christie have sold for more than £300,000 at auction in Exeter.
The sale included a collection of the crime writer's first edition novels, which sold for £41,700. One buyer paid £2,400 for Death on the Nile, the most expensive of the books sold at the auction.
The signed books, ceramics, pictures, prints, furniture and jewellery attracted enormous interest from around the world.
|Taking telephone bids|
The unique possessions belonging to the crime novelist were being sold for thousands more than originally expected.
Initial estimates for the 700 lots ranged from £200,000 to £250,000. But†from the start of bidding, it was clear many of the items would sell for two or three times their estimate.
The most valuable of all the lots was a large Hispano-Flemish cabinet which sold for £13,000.
Bidding, which started at 10am, finished at 7pm after nearly 1,000 people had packed the auction room throughout the day.
The sale was made up of surplus items from Greenway House, Christie's holiday retreat in South Devon.
|One of the books with a personal inscription|
Held at Bearne's in Exeter, the auction raised £303,000, half of which will go to the National Trust to pay for conservation work at Greenway which is due to open to the public in 2008.
Bearne's director Daniel Goddard said it had been difficult to value the lots because of the need to take into account "the Agatha Christie factor".
"There are a lot of people new to the auction room who are just caught up in the Agatha Christie thing," he said.
"The interest has been considerable and it is world-wide. The main interest areas abroad have come from America and Australia."
Businessman Rex Rozario bought two vases in the sale for £385 and said it was because he wanted something unique for his home.
"I have read quite a few of her books and now I can say I have something that was from Agatha Christie's house," he said.
|Items sold for more than expected|
Andrew Thomas, a partner with Bearne's, said: "Bidders turned out in force and not only voted with their feet but also their wallets too in order to buy a piece of the Agatha Christie legend.
"The sale atmosphere was electric but, more importantly, a considerable sum has been raised which will help the National Trust's restoration of Greenway House."
Christie lived at Greenway, near Brixham, for 38 years.
She bought Greenway in 1938 and although she never wrote any of her books there, it became a summer home and a retreat for her until her death in 1976.
The house, which sits on the banks of the River Dart, made thinly-disguised appearances in at least two of Dame Agatha's novels.
It is thought to appear in Dead Man's Folly, written in 1956, and Five Little Pigs, written in 1943.
Greenway was gifted to the National Trust in 2000 by Dame Agatha's daughter Rosalind Hicks and her husband Anthony. The gardens there opened to the public in 2002.
Following the death of Rosalind in 2004 and Anthony in 2005, Dame Agatha's grandson Mathew Prichard gave permission to the National Trust to open up the 18th Century house.
The trust hopes to reopen the house during 2008 once a multi-million pound restoration is completed.
The sale coincides with the second Christie Week, a national celebration to mark her birthday and recognise her legacy.