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Flood-damage art sale raises £32m
One of the country's oldest aristocratic families has auctioned off millions of pounds-worth of property after being left with a large repair bill for damage caused by floods.
A long list of rare items owned by the Duke of Northumberland raised more than £32 million when they went under the hammer at Sotheby's in London.
This was done to cover a £12 million bill the Duke was left with when a culvert collapsed on his land, resulting in severe flood damage to a housing development.
It forced many families to be moved from their homes and a number of demolitions have taken place since.
Some of the items sold included The Garden Of Eden And The Fall Of Man, painted by Jan Brueghel the Elder, for £6.8 million and a wing of a diptych by Giovanni da Rimini for £5.6 million.
A Roman marble statue of Aphrodite sold for £9.3 million, setting a new record for any classical sculpture sold at auction in Europe.
The Duke said: "Over the centuries, my family has had the extraordinary good fortune to be the custodians of many great treasures.
"We dearly hope that those that were sold today will bring as much joy to their new owners as they have to both me and my ancestors.
"Their sale will enable us to replenish funds earmarked for the preservation and upkeep of the Northumberland Estates and Collections, which were unexpectedly needed to help repair the damage done by the Newburn floods, and to help those affected."
The flood-damaged development hit the news in September 2012 when dramatic pictures emerged of one block of flats left without foundations after they were washed away.
A spokesman for Northumberland Estates said: "The Newburn repair costs have now been settled, but largely from funds that were destined for maintenance of historic buildings and other projects intended to safeguard the future of the Estates.
"The sale proceeds, once the tax bill has been settled, will be used to replenish these funds."