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Windsor Medal Gets Top Auction Bid

February 20, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Windsor name continued to be magic today among auction-goers, as gold medal that the Duke of Windsor received to mark the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary in 1936 sold for $52,250.

The price was the top bid during the morning session on the second day of the nine-day sales marathon, at which 40,000 items are to be offered.

The Queen Mary medal was only one of five known to exist, and Sotheby’s auction house had estimated it would sell for $7,000 to $10,000.

A medal struck for the duke’s visit to the United States in 1919, when he was the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, brought $14,300. Another medal, for the diamond jubilee of Canada’s confederation, sold for $8,800.

The buyers’ identities were not immediately available, Sotheby’s spokesman Matthew Weigman said.

A total of $285,545 was paid for 116 items, bringing the total for the first two sessions to $2,208,220, Weigman said.

It was in 1936 that the Duke, then King Edward VIII, abdicated the British throne so he could marry American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson. Edward, the only English monarch ever to abdicate, died in 1972. His widow died 14 years later and left their Paris estate to charity.

The money is going to the Dodi Fayed International Charitable Foundation, headed by Egyptian-born millionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, owner of the Hotel Ritz in Paris and Harrods department store in London. He bought the estate, which contained the 40,000 items, in 1986.

The charity is named for Al-Fayed’s son, who 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.

When the auction got under way Thursday, a San Francisco couple really took the cake, spending $29,900 for piece of cake preserved from the duke and duchess’ 1937 wedding.

Benjamin and Amanda Yim outbid a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! executive for the cake, which is sealed in a 3-inch-square white box.

Yim said the cake is ``the epitome of a true romance ... a great romance _ truly romantic and elegant, like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.″ And of course, he wouldn’t eat it, he said.

Yim, 31, 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.

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

Among the bidders Thursday was fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, who bought $400,000 worth of merchandise, The New York Times reported today.

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