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EARL SELLS FAMILY SILVER TO BEAT TAX MAN.

One of Scotland's richest aristocrats is set to make pounds 2.5million by selling off the family silver.

The Earl of Rosebery - who is worth pounds 72million - is cashing in on a valuable collection built up by his ancestors.

The items, which have never been seen by the public, include a Swiss drinking cup worth pounds 500,000 and a pair of royal ale pots, expected to fetch pounds 700,000.

Despite being the 16th richest person in the country, the earl has a reputation for being prudent with his money.

He offsets the cost of running his home, Dalmeny House on the outskirts of Edinburgh, by opening it up to visitors.

His family have revealed the cash from the sale will go to his five children and his grandchildren.

Lady Rosebery said yesterday: "The collection, which was too vulnerable to go on display, went into a trust for the benefit of the children.

"The trustees have now decided it should be sold.

The earl explained: "They are items that have never been on display and are not Scottish anyway."

The collection was formed by the 19th century connoisseur Baron Meyer de Rothschild and his son Archibald Philip, the 5th Earl of Rosebery, who was British Prime Minister in the 1890s.

The Elizabeth I silver-gilt ale pots are the only privately-owned pair and cost pounds 530 in 1871.

Other highlights from the sale at Sotheby's in February include a 17th century water jug owned by Charles II and an historic gold box dating from 1773.

Yesterday's sale preview was the first time the valuables had been seen in public for more than 100 years.

Almost six years ago, the 69-year-old earl sold a Rembrandt for almost pounds 4million to pay for improvements at his Gothic pile.

In the summer he hit the headlines after applying to Historic Scotland for public money to pay for pounds 1million repairs at his Category A listed stately home on the banks of the River Forth.

And two years ago the 7th Earl came under fire for trying to charge up to pounds 40 for cars to view the Tall Ships Race from his land.
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Author:Fairburn, Robert
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 22, 1998
Words:360
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