Auction settles Margaret's death duties

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Frenzied bidding at Christie's auction house last night saw jewellery and Fabergé pieces owned by Princess Margaret sell for almost £9.6m. Some items went under the hammer at 100 times their asking price.

About 1,000 bidders crammed into five sales rooms to see one of the star lots, a delicate Fabergé clock, given to Princess Margaret by her grandmother Queen Mary, sold for £1.24m. The Poltimore Tiara, worn by Princess Margaret at her wedding to Lord Snowdon, sold for £926,400.

A Fabergé enamelled cigarette holder, valued at £2,000, fetched £209,600. Applause greeted the sale for £276,800 of an art deco pearl and diamond necklace that she wore when she was photographed by Cecil Beaton for her 19th and 21st birthday portraits.

The 890 items of jewellery, furniture and fine art belonging to the princess, who died in 2002 after a stroke, are being sold by her children, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, to raise the £3m death duties on her estate. Some of the money raised will go to charities.

The sale continues today, with silver, furniture and art. The most keenly anticipated item is the famous 1957 portrait painted by the Italian Pietro Annigoni, who allegedly kicked her corgi into a grandfather clock during a sitting.