The Duke of Northumberland is to sell off more than £15m worth of art after being hit with a huge repair bill for damage to a flood-hit housing estate.
The Northumberland Estates, the Duke’s business arm, have announced plans to auction art from his homes at Alnwick Castle and Syon House in London, with a combined worth of over £15m.
The move comes as the Estates seek to balance their books having been hit with a repair bill to date of around £12m as a result of the flooding which hit Newburn, in Newcastle, in 2012.
Homes had to be demolished after heavy rain washed away land and foundations that September. A culvert on land owned by the Estates collapsed, leaving the Duke’s business venture with a hefty repair bill.
The money for the repairs was found from funds which had previously been set aside for maintenance of the estate’s buildings, and projects.
The venture has now announced the sale as it seeks to recoup the costs, and to “allow for investment in the estates’ long term heritage projects to continue unhindered.”
Around 80 items will be sold through Sotheby’s in London throughout this year.
The Duke said: “The Newburn floods were unexpected and momentous, and our overriding responsibility was to help those affected. The costs involved in repairing the situation in Newburn have now been settled, but largely from funds that were destined for maintenance of our historic buildings and projects intended to safeguard the future of the estates.
“It is to replenish these funds that these Sotheby’s sales have been conceived. While each of the pieces to be sold is of great intrinsic interest, they have been carefully chosen so as not to detract from the overall integrity of the Northumberland Collection.
“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 are now being sold from the collection will bring as much joy to their new owners as they have to me and my ancestors.”