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Windsors’ Wedding Cake Wows Bidders

February 20, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ A San Francisco couple really took the cake _ but after spending $29,900 for a confectionery piece of history, they weren’t about to eat it, too.

Benjamin and Amanda Yim outbid a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! executive Thursday for a piece of cake left over from the 1937 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Yim said the cake is ``the epitome of a true romance ... a great romance _ truly romantic and elegant, like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.″

He was referring to the decision by the Duke, then King Edward VIII, to abdicate the British throne in 1936 so he could marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson.

The piece of cake went on sale in the opening session of a nine-day Sotheby’s auction of the Windsors’ Paris estate. Edward, the only English monarch ever to abdicate, died in 1972. His widow died 14 years later and left the estate to charity.

The first session raised $1.9 million _ three times the original estimate _ for the Dodi Fayed International Charitable Foundation, headed by Egyptian-born millionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, owner of the Hotel Ritz in Paris and Harrod’s department store in London. He also owns the 40,000 items in the Windsor estate, which he purchased in 1986.

His son, Dodi Fayed, was killed with Princess Diana and their driver in an August car crash in Paris. The sale was postponed from September because of the deaths.

Yim, 31, a self-described entrepreneur and collector, insisted he wouldn’t eat the cake, which is sealed in a three-inch-square white box. He also said the price he paid, which included a 15 percent commission, was about his limit.

He outbid Ripley’s vice president Ed Meyers, who said he intends to bid on other items for the Ripley’s museums but confessed that the cake bidding _ which began at $500 _ made him ``a little gun-shy″ for future sessions.

About 1,000 guests were in attendance at Sotheby’s Manhattan showroom. Other bidders in Chicago and Los Angeles made offers by telephone.

A portrait of the Duchess by the late British painter Cecil Beaton, valued before the sale at up to $15,000, was purchased for $134,500.

Other bidders in attendance included fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, who bought $400,000 worth of merchandise, The New York Times reported today.

Up for auction today were flags, medals and probably the highlight _ letters of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1861, with an estimated value of at least $6,000.

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