Steve Forbes to Sell $1.5 Million Winston Churchill Memorabilia

Steve Forbes, chief executive of Forbes Inc., is selling his collection of items associated with former British leader Winston Churchill at auctions in London and New York.

The Churchill memorabilia will be offered by Forbes, 62, in three parts at Christie’s International. The first sale, expected to raise 1 million pounds ($1.5 million), will be held in the U.K. capital on June 2, the London-based auction house said today in an e-mailed statement.

“My father liked to observe that nothing is forever, including collections,” said Forbes in the foreword to the auction catalog. “Since my immediate family doesn’t share this passion of mine, it seemed fitting and proper to let others have the opportunity and thrill of putting their own collections together, an activity that I enjoyed for some three decades.”

Among the 150 lots of letters, books and photographs on offer in the June sale will be the wartime Prime Minister’s engagement diary, detailing Churchill’s appointments from September 1939 to June 1945. The document, kept by private secretaries, notes the start of the Battle of Britain and meetings with President Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and Stalin. It is expected to fetch as much as 120,000 pounds.

In 1940 a former assistant private secretary wrote to the Prime Minister, urging he reach agreement with Hitler. That document, and Churchill’s terse response -- “I am ashamed of you for writing such a letter. I return it to you - to burn & forget” -- are estimated at 6,000 pounds to 8,000 pounds.

The London auction will also include an inscribed box containing an unsmoked Havana cigar, valued at 1,000 pounds to 1,500 pounds. Churchill gave the cigar to a fellow diner at a lunch at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco in 1963, said Christie’s.

The rest of the collection will be offered at auctions in New York and London on Dec. 3 and in the summer of 2011 respectively, said Christie’s.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at sreyburn@hotmail.com.

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