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ANTIQUES WAD SHOW; Marquis to flog his mansion and furniture for pounds 20m.

Byline: By Craig McDonald

A PIECE of Scottish history is to go under the hammer in a pounds 20million sale of the century.

Dumfries House and its fabulous collection of furniture is to be sold by the Marquis of Bute.

One Chippendale bookcase alone is expected to fetch up to pounds 4million and set a new British record for a single piece of furniture.

Experts last night described the Chippendale collection as the "most important ever offered at auction".

And it's thought the mansion itself, near Cumnock, Ayrshire, will sell for around pounds 6.75million.

The marquis is former racing driver Johnny Dumfries, who won the British Formula Three championship in 1984 and also raced in Formula One for Lotus.

But the sale will not be leaving him homeless.

He will instead concentrate on his home at Mount Stuart, on the Isle of Bute, and his land on the island.

Dumfries confirmed that he will use auctioneers Christie's and estate agents Savills to sell the mansion and its contents.

He added: "As Mount Stuart, the Bute estate and the island of Bute's community are the focal point of my family's interests, the Dumfries estate is not central to Bute family heritage.

"This is an ideal asset to dispose of, as it is a relatively small, well-managed and profitable estate."

Savills will put the house on the market this summer.

Dumfries House is set in nearly 2000 acres of land and is regarded as one of Scotland's most important category A-listed houses.

It was designed and built between 1754 and 1759 by John, Robert and James Adam for William Crichton-Dalrymple, Earl of Dumfries and Stair.

The Adams were friends of Thomas Chippendale and they asked him to help furnish the Palladian mansion.

A number of rooms were furnished entirely by him, including the "Blue Bedroom".

And the auction, at Christie's in London on July 12 and 13, will contain several unique examples of Chippendale furniture.

Some were made specifically for the house and are expected to attract bids from around the world.

A number of Scottish cabinetmakers or "wrights", such as Francis Brodie, Alexander Peter and William Mathie, were also commissioned to make furniture for the mansion.

The last member of the Bute family to live in Dumfries House was Eileen, Dowager Marchioness of Bute, who died in 1993.

It also lay empty between 1910 and 1950 and for most of the 1800s.

Charles Cator, deputy chairman of Christie's International, said the house had "one of the finest and most original collections of British furniture still in private hands and the finest private collection of Scottish 18th century furniture".

He compared the importance of the auction to "historic landmark sales of the past, such as Longleat, Houghton and Wentworth".

Guy Galbraith, Savills director, said they expected "enormous" interest, both within Scotland and internationally, in the property.

CAPTION(S):

TIME TO SELL: Johnny Dumfries WILLIAM THORNTON PHOTOGRAPHY; FAST LANE: Johnny in 1988 when he was a racing driver; RICH PICKINGS: Above, two of the rooms inside Dumfries House, main pic; Late George II parcel-gilt rosewood, padouk & sabicu breakfront bookcase pounds 2m to pounds 4m; Two late George II gilt wood Chippendale pier mirrors pounds 600,00 to pounds 4m; George II palm-wrapped mahogany bed pounds 300,000 - pounds 500,000; Set of 22 Scottish George II mahogany dining chairs pounds 400,000 - pounds 600,000
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 14, 2007
Words:563
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