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Carefully preserved by her Pygmalion and first husband, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, the collection languished for 30 years, so there was an added sense of Aladdin’s Cave here: la Diva’s dresses, her jewels, musical scores and photographs. Above all, her letters.

There were a number of institutional buyers, not least on behalf of a soon-to-be museum devoted to Callas in Venice, which bought clothes and documents at a brisk rate. Naturally, too, there were plenty of private bidders, ready to buy anything associated with her.

The one disappointment proved to be a lot of 63 letters from Callas to her husband, dating from 1947 to 1950, written mainly from Italy, Argentina and Mexico. As a single lot, they would appeal to an institution, but they have been fully published by Meneghini himself and in many cases illustrated, so they held no surprises and sold for just €26,000 (£17,570).

The collection of over 250 musical scores, some of them annotated in Callas’s hand, fetched rather more, selling at €34,000 (£23,450). Personal items which clearly meant much to the Diva attracted strong bidding: a good luck charm necklace of gold and various semi-precious stones by Van Cleef & Arpels, much in evidence in portraits of the singer during the 1970s, was bid stratospherically beyond its modest estimate, going under the hammer at €53,000 (£36,550). The engraved wedding rings of Callas and Meneghini went for €24,500 (£16,900).

The sale also included contracts, films, photographs, the rather pathetic diary Meneghini kept during their separation and some silverware. All of her 50-odd dresses, mostly designed for Callas by Biki, sold.

In the end, just 16 lots of the 300 offered remained unsold. In the end, it was a painting that topped the sale, a 3ft 2in x 2ft 1in (98 x 64cm), icon-like Tuscan gold-ground picture of the Madonna and Child enthroned, attributed to Coppo di Marcovaldo, which sold for €165,000 (£113,800).

By Lucian Comoy