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The assumption is that his substantial purchases are for a British residence but wherever his abode is he will have, as well as an impressive rotunda, a magnificent pair of gates leading into the grounds and a stunning library inside, or adjacent to, the big house. The early 20th century cast and wrought iron gates, each 10ft 8in high by 6ft 3in wide (2.20 x 1.87m) were stamped for the famous Hart Son Pearl & Co foundry and, with their panelled lower sections cast in relief with Birmingham’s coat of arms, once guarded the city’s huge Smithfield fruit and vegetable market until it was demolished during the corporation’s fit of architectural madness in the early ’60s.

Estimated at £7000-9000 they brought £11,000.

A sizeable purchase, they were dwarfed in volume by the Middle Eastern buyer’s earlier buy – some 100 tons of leather covered library shelving and skeleton ironwork which once held some 1,500,000 volumes in the late, and oft lamented, Reading Room of the British Museum. Originally designed by Sydney Smirke and erected between 1854 and 1857, they saw alterations over the years – the cast iron stacks being rebuilt at various stages.

Nevertheless there was history bound up in them and they were, of course, unique. Naturally this gave Sotheby’s problems when it came to estimating the shelves put into the sale by British Heritage Development which had failed to sell the shelves themselves after the new British Library made them redundant and were getting fed up of storage costs for 9000 square metres.

Eventually Sotheby’s settled on a £5000-10,000 estimate although they always knew that the right buyer would be essential given the size of the shelving and the need to build a new structure to accommodate it. The right buyer did come along but he faced no competition from a like-minded bidder and this remarkable section of Britain’s literary and political history went under the hammer at just £12,500.