Mitterrand's hat, slippers fetch top price at auction

PARIS, Jan 29, 2008 (AFP) - A trademark fedora hat and a pair of luxury slippers were among hundreds of items from late French president Francois Mitterrand's wardrobe that went under the hammer Tuesday, January 29th to raise money for charity.

French president Francois Mitterrand - Photo : Michel Clement/AFP

The 368 objects on sale at the Drouot auction house in Paris included gifts to the presidential couple, mainly household items, from international figures including Cuban leader Fidel Castro and former US first lady Barbara Bush.

One of the Socialist president's favourite hats, a sienna-coloured fedora, sparked a bidding battle that closed at 7,800 euros -- 100 times the starting price -- in an auction room packed with some 300 buyers and curious onlookers.

The fedora's buyer told AFP he was acting on behalf of Mitterrand's party, the Socialists.

The president's legal robes, signed Cerruti with an ermine border, went for 8,000 euros, snapped up by a Parisian lawyer.

Also hotly-awaited was a pair slippers, by the English shoemaker Church's, in black velvet embroidered with a red rose -- which went for 1,000 euros, more than five times the estimated price.

Mitterrand was France's head of state from 1981 until 1995. He died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 79.

All proceeds from the sale go to fund the work of his widow Danielle, 83, who runs the international human rights charity France-Libertes, with the entire lot valued at 90,000 euros (138,000 dollars).

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