Robert Charlton, the millionaire Leicester businessman, led a charmed and successful life and regularly lavished his wife with expensive jewellery.

But there were hidden secrets behind his generosity, for gifts were not tokens of his affection, but tokens of his guilt...

Mr Charlton would present his wife with an expensive item of jewellery each time he indulged in an extra-marital affair. Over their 26 years of marriage, this habit became expensive.

Mrs Charlton's daughter, who was 11 when the pair married, decided to put the items up for sale after the death of her mother in 2006. Mr Charlton died in 1974.

The sale revealed over 40 pieces in the collection, raising nearly £286,000 and putting the average cost per dalliance in today's money at a wallet stinging £6,500.

The millionaire is thought to have begun with relatively inexpensive gifts, and upped the ante each time he submitted to temptation.

The most expensive trinket in the collection was a necklace made up of 54 diamonds, which sold at auction for £50,000, according to the website Totallymoney.

But while the guilty offerings may have proved expensive, they were successful in keeping the marriage alive as Mr. Charlton's cheating ways were no secret inside or outside the family home.

"It is a beautiful collection of fine diamond jewellery. There were 43 items in total and most of it dates back to the late Victorian and early Edwardian period," Clare Durham, of the auctioneers Woolley and Wallis of Salisbury, told Totallymoney.

"Any time Mr Charlton was naughty and played away he bought his wife a nice bit of jewellery to keep her sweet. She was well aware of what was going on and he cheated on her a lot."

"It may even have been more than 43 times, because the family have kept some of the pieces," she said.

"His daughter was fully aware of what was going on at the time and the family have told us the story. It was no secret to anyone."

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