Earl of Devon auctions £1.5m of family heirlooms to pay debt

The Earl of Devon is to sell a collection of family silver and valuable antiques at Sotheby's tomorrow - to help pay his £1m overdraft.

Hugh Courtenay, 67, hopes that the sale will clear help the debt before he hands over the running of the 3,500-acre estate, on the banks of the River Exe near Starcross, United Kingdom, to his son, Charles.

The sale is expected to raise about £1.5m, reports the This is South Devon news site.

"We tried to choose things we wouldn't miss too much," said Lord Devon.

"With the various projects we've invested in here over the years, we found we were trying to support too much in overheads. Something had to give. Pretty much every generation has to do this."

The 130 lots will include Georgian furniture, early British pictures, silver and ceramics.

A picture by Joshua Reynolds of the Hon Frances Courtenay, sister of the ninth Earl, and her daughter will go under the hammer at an estimated £200,000.

A George II mahogany library table, from around 1750, could fetch up to £180,000. And a portrait of General George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, is expected to bring up to £60,000.

Other sales will include a George III silver dessert basket, 13 oak dining chairs, family silver, mahogany furniture and family portraits.

The lots will go on sale with the 70 lots from the private rooms of Lord Hastings in Northumbria.

"A bit less in the way of furniture is probably a good thing. Not so much to move about," added Lord Devon.

"We are honoured to offer works from these two noble seats in our house sale at Sotheby's New Bond Street," said Harry Dalmeny, Sotheby's UK director.

"This fascinating auction offers collectors the exciting possibility of acquiring pieces from two famous English homes, each built and furnished by the family that still lives there.

"Architects and designers of the calibre of Vanbrugh, Wyatt, Adam and Channon ensure this sale will be unmissable for devotees of the English country house," he said.

Lord Devon's son, Charles Courtenay, a lawyer, presently lives in California with his wife, the former Baywatch actress Allison Langer.


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