Syd Barrett's last remnants sold in frenzy of bidding

They are the enigmatic fragments from the life of a shy recluse and DIY handyman who, years ago, had briefly been an international rock star. But last night, these odd-ball items left behind by the late Syd Barrett, once of Pink Floyd, achieved a worth far beyond the mundane reality of their appearance.

At an auction of Barrett's possessions in Cambridge, attended by fans and memorabilia dealers from all over the world, hundreds of pounds were paid for items that might have been ignored in a charity shop or car boot sale: £400 for a kitchen chair, painted a light pink by Barrett himself, £340 for a plywood chest of drawers, each drawer with different handles, £600 for a pair of curtains, in a nursery fabric with brightly coloured dancing animals and £800 for Barrett's artificial Christmas tree.

The tone of the bidding was set from the beginning, with dealers and individual buyers competing over the internet and by telephone for a simple home-made table, with red painted legs and pink top, typical of the individual touches Barrett added to his furniture. It went for £420. All these and many more curiosities left when Barrett died on 7 July were sold by Cheffins auction house in his home town of Cambridge, in a sale that raised more than £121,000 which will help fund a bursary for local arts students.

According to his sister, Rosemary Breen, a former nurse who cared for him until his death, Barrett, who preferred to be known by his original first name of Roger, considered himself a painter first and foremost, rather than a musician.

Although he destroyed most of his work, several of his surviving paintings were on sale; the most significant was a watercolour of lemons and bottles, signed RB and dated January 2006. Mrs Breen believes it could have been the last work he painted to have survived. It was bought by George Peat, a local antique dealer and "huge" fan, for £9,500.

As well as the odd bits of furniture, the sale included more personal items such as his notebooks, which contained jottings on subjects ranging from cathedrals to the weather, interspersed with cut-out pictures and postcards. One lot, consisting of two A5 spiral-bound notebooks, were bought by Theresa Northrop, a technical writer, who had travelled from Ohio for the event. She paid £1,300 for the two books, one of which entitled "Garden" contained just one page of notes, and the second, labelled "Art" contained nine pages of notes. "The notebooks are something different ­ these are the original words of Syd, all hand written," she said. A collection of reference books, some signed by Barrett, went for £4,000 while a dictionary with his own abstract collage cover went for £900.

Another bidder was Dave Fowell, a dealer in memorabilia and a "massive Pink Floyd fan". He ended the evening empty-handed, outbid by fans and other dealers. "There are lots of fans pushing up prices," he observed. He had been particularly hopeful of securing a psychedelic cushion, for about £400; it went for £1,600.

Edward Maggs, a Mayfair dealer, snapped up two of the choicest items ­ one of Barrett's sets of home-made speakers and his red bicycle ­ for a private buyer. Mr Maggs confessed that he had bought the other set of home-made and hand-painted speakers as well: "I might keep those myself, because I'm a fan too. I think they are brilliant folk art."

Barrett trained at Camberwell School of Art, before joining his Cambridge friends to form Pink Floyd in the mid-1960s. After he was ejected from the band because of the excessive drug consumption that was to cast a shadow over the rest of his life, Barrett retreated to Cambridge, subsisting on the royalties that his former bandmates ensured he received.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower