United Kingdom

Ornamental box Boris Yeltsin gave to Betty Boothroyd when she was Commons Speaker sells for £2,400

A paper-mâché box Boris Yeltsin gave to former Commons Speaker Baroness Betty Boothroyd has sold for nearly 50 times its estimate at auction. 

The 91-year-old flogged around 70 decorative items she was presented with during her eight years in charge at the House of Commons. 

The 20th century ornamental box from the late Russian president sold for £2,400 - a whopping 48 times its £50 estimate. 

The former MP, who is the only woman to have been elected Speaker of the Commons, said: 'I entertained President Yeltsin during a trip to London. 

An ornamental box Boris Yeltsin gave to former Commons Speaker Baroness Betty Boothroyd has sold for nearly 50 times its estimate at auction

'He kissed my hand and gratefully presented me with the little box, which has a note inside from him. 

'That would have been during the time I was Speaker between 1992 and 2000.' 

Baroness Boothroyd auctioned off decorative items that tell the story of her colourful working life. 

The former West Bromwich MP consigned around 70 items to Hansons London on April 24, and most sold well above their estimate. 

A large fine china limited edition figure of Lawrence of Arabia riding a camel sold for £1,250 - more than three times the £250-£350 guide price. 

One of six ever made, it was given to the baroness when she was president of the All-Party Defence Group. 

The 20th century ornamental box from the late Russian president sold for £2,400 - a whopping 48 times its £50 estimate

Other treasures included costume jewellery and ornaments as well as political mementos, while two art glass birds by Finnish designer Oiva Toikka fetched £190.  

A ship’s glass decanter and glasses presented to her by the British Navy in St Petersburg, Russia, made £110 having been expected to fetch £30.

An inscribed pewter beer jug handed to her by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group sold for £130, more than twice its estimate of £50.

Baroness Boothroyd parted with the gifts after downsizing from her London home to a small cottage in South Cambridgeshire which is too small to accommodate them.

The former MP said the items auctioned by Hansons London were her 'life story'.

She said: 'It was very hard for me to part with some of the treasures I had built up over my lifetime and political career but, due to the need to downsize, I simply hadn’t got room for everything anymore.

'I’ve cherished every single thing but I had to let go. They were a reminder of a colourful life.

The former West Bromwich MP entertained President Yeltsin (pictured) during a trip to London and he 'kissed her hand and gratefully presented her with the little box, which has a note inside from him'

She added: 'It's an awful thing but that's the way it is, and there's no alternative. I am moving to a country cottage in South Cambridgeshire.

'It's a lovely old place with beams but it hasn't got the deep windowsills or space I would need to display all the items I have in London.

'It's taken me a long time to go through everything. I am parting with lovely things I've collected over the years, or which were given to me as gifts during my public life.

'These little mementos, some bought during my travels to colourful countries like Cuba, mean so much. They're my life story.'  

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