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The feud among the heirs of the late Sir Michael Butler, a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, began after his death in 2013.

Sir Michael’s elder children, Caroline and James, requested for the collection to be split up, so that they could take possession of their share.

Their younger siblings Katharine and Charles resisted and said they wanted to honour their father’s wishes to keep the collection together.

Earlier this year the High Court ruled the 502 pieces – the largest privately owned collections of late Ming and early Qing dynasty porcelain in the UK – should be divided.

A last ditch appeal was launched by Katharine last month to keep the collection together.

Private Museum To Close

The collection has been housed in a private museum near the family home in Mapperton, Dorset since 2010 but it will now close. According to Katharine, a valuers from Christie’s have visited the collection this week.

She said: “Destroying this collection is a barbaric act and a cultural tragedy for Britain, especially at a time when the country needs to reinforce its cultural links around the world. The removal of 250 pieces means the museum will have to be closed and the collection can no longer function. Let’s hope the collection can be saved at appeal.”

Law firm Harcus Sinclair launched an application to appeal on behalf of Katharine last month but a decision will take many weeks. It is believed a sale cannot happen until a decision about the appeal has been made.

Law firm Bircham Dyson Bell and counsel from XXIV Old Buildings acted on behalf of Caroline and James who were both unavailable for comment.