13 DECEMBER 2002

Little did wartime leader Winston Churchill realise, as he stubbed out one of his trademark cigars in artist Oscar Nemon's studio, that the butt would one day be sold for £4,000. Indeed, the fact that it was already half-smoked by Sir Winston seems only to have increased its value for one enthusiastic bidder at Sotheby's in London.

The unique chunk of tobacco proved not nearly so attractive, however, as the curious one-piece suit that the politician often wore during the war years. Designed by Churchill himself, the zip-front outfit went for £30,000.

It is said that the generously cut pin-stripe number allowed him to remain comfortable during his long working hours through World War II.

The legendary prime minister gave the items to sculptor Oscar Nemon after sitting for him in the 1950s. The artist says he has treasured them ever since and that the suit was never dry-cleaned. "It remains more or less as worn by Churchill, preserving the contours of his body to a remarkably evocative extent." Nemon has since used it to help him make statues of Sir Winston for Windsor Castle, Paris, Monaco and Kansas City. He will use the money from the sale to help maintain his studio.

A hip flask and revolver belonging to the former soldier turned out to be the only disappointing items at the sale. He had the two pieces with him during his courageous 1899 escape from a Boer prisoner-of-war camp in South Africa, but despite their unusual history, they were withdrawn after bidding barely reached half the £266,000 expected.

Photo: ©
The sale brings a whole new meaning to raising the price of tobacco. Above: Sir Winston enjoys one of his hallmark cigars Photo: © AFPClick on image to enlarge
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