Sir Winston Churchill memorabilia auction may fetch $1.5m

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One of the largest collections of Sir Winston Churchill memorabilia, including an unsmoked cigar, is expected to fetch £1m at auction later.

The items are being sold by US publishing magnate, Steve Forbes, who amassed them over three decades.

The collection also features the wartime leader's official engagements diary and candid letters to colleagues.

Auctioneer Christie's says the items, being sold in three parts, provide an exceptional insight into the man.

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I'm ashamed of you for writing such a letter. I return it to you to burn and forget

The first sale, of about 150 lots, will be followed by a second in New York in December and a third in London next summer.

Christie's director of books and manuscripts, Thomas Venning, says one letter from June 1940 dealing with the darkest days of the war gives an unmistakable insight into his character.

He says: "One of his [Churchill's] private, former private, secretaries has just written to him a letter of pure defeatism, saying, 'We've done our best. Now is the moment to make peace terms'...

"It's just a purely craven letter. Churchill's response is magnificent and simple. He just says, 'I'm ashamed of you for writing such a letter. I return it to you to burn and forget.'"

The former prime minister's engagement diary on 30 cards, giving details of his daily activities from September 1939 to June 1945, is expected to fetch up to £120,000.

It was kept by his private secretaries and includes recorded summits with leaders Roosevelt and Stalin as well as leisure pursuits such as football matches and theatre trips.

Malcolm S Forbes Jr, who gathered the collection, is chief executive of Forbes Inc and the grandson of Forbes magazine founder BC Forbes.

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