Dewar's obscure possessions to be auctioned

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Indy Politics

Artworks and antiques that made up part of the £2m fortune left by Donald Dewar, the First Minister of Scotland who died last year, are to be sold next month.

Phillips Auctioneers will begin the break-up of the estate by offering the first handful of his possessions at its sale in Edinburgh in eight lots valued between £3,900 and £5,450.

Meanwhile, his two properties in the fashionable West End of Glasgow have attracted a flurry of interest, with estate agents having to take bookings for viewings more than a week in advance. They are asking for offers of £149,000 and upwards for a four- bedroom flat in need of "extensive modernisation", while a nearby luxurious three- bedroom apartment used mainly to store his paintings and books is on the market for more than £189,000.

The frugal politician stunned colleagues by leaving a personal fortune of £2,060,465 in stocks and shares, property, valuable paintings, rare books and personal savings. But in a sign of his legendary disregard for other possessions, he left personal effects and furniture valued at just £5,000.

He avoided extravagance during his political career, preferring to stay in Glasgow rather than holidaying abroad. He favoured his battered Peugeot over a ministerial car and chose to eat in his local curry house rather than expensive restaurants.

Once described as the worst-dressed MP in Westminster, he never owned a raincoat until he was caught in a blizzard two years ago.

While the items on sale will be unspectacular to specialist dealers, their origin is bound to catch the eye of general collectors.

Phillips has put an estimate of up to £1,500 on a pair of watercolours by an unknown artist depicting a visit by King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822. Two late George III long-case clocks are expected to fetch between £600 and £900 each, while a mahogany chest of the same age has been valued at up to £350.

Tamara Templer, sales manager for Phillips Edinburgh, said: "They are very good, solid Scottish pieces, but their provenance means the estimates could be exceeded. Donald Dewar was such a well-known, well-loved figure that private people, as well as dealers, will be brought in. These factors will hopefully push the values up."

Mr Dewar, who died in October aged 63 after a brain haemorrhage, left his estate to his children, Iain and Marion.

Almost half of his fortune was made up of a share portfolio worth almost £1m, with large stakes in companies including the Royal Bank of Scotland (£284,000), Unilever (£70,000) and Marks & Spencer (£37,000).