Gloria von Thurn und Taxis - who in 1980, at the age of 20, married into one of Europe's oldest and wealthiest aristocratic families - is selling thousands of items to cover tax and debts.
The princess, who was working as a barmaid in a Munich cafe when she met her prince, delighted the gossip columnists. Her hairstyles came in a punk palette of colours, she was arrested with hashish in her hat box, and she loved motorcycles as much as parties.
However, since becoming business manager of the family fortunes, she has orchestrated a clear-out from the family's 25 castles - including the 500-room Schloss St Emmeram in Regensburg, northern Bavaria. She is selling 3,500 lots of bric-a-brac - paintings, prints, jewellery, silver and 75,000 bottles of wine.
Such is the scale of this sale - furniture alone includes 400 tables, 940 chairs, sofas, stools and benches - it will be spread over nine days. Sotheby's describes it as the longest sale held by an English auction house this century. And it is only a fraction of what is left in the collection. The items, expected to fetch more than pounds 7m, are being sold to cover duties following the death in December 1990 of Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis. Family heirlooms worth pounds 9m were sold in November 1992.
The family's fortune, built up on Europe's first postal system in the 15th century, includes property in the United States, Canada and Brazil as well as Europe. The Thurn und Taxis family is one of Europe's biggest landowners.
The auction takes place in the Carriage Museum at Schloss St Emmeram from 12 to 21 October.
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