1950s robot Cygan smashes auction estimate

The BBC's Philip Hampsheir met Cygan ahead of its sale

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A 1950s robot named Cygan has smashed its reserve price at an auction in London.

The automaton attracted £17,500 in an auction at Christie's, far more than the estimate of £8,000-£12,000.

The machine, made up of 300,000 parts and 8ft tall, wowed audiences with its advanced technology when first unveiled more than 50 years ago.

The Italian-made robot was able to go forwards and backwards, move its arms and crush drinks cans with its hands.

It was sold to an unnamed buyer in the UK, Christie's told the BBC.

The buyer outbid a group called Playful Leeds who had tried to raise enough money by crowdfunding to bring the robot to their city so it could welcome visitors.

News reports from the time suggested that one day we could all have a robot companion like Cygan to help around the house.

Its designer, Ing Fiorito, was an aeromodeller from Turin.

The sale was part of a special collection at Christie's called Out of the Ordinary.

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