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    Vast teddy bear collection goes under the hammer


    by ODN


    One of the finest collections of teddy bears and stuffed toys made by German company, Steiff, is to go under the hammer.

    Christie's auction house has valued the cuddly collection of 1,300 soft toys at more than £1 million.

    The collection is from disgraced American hedge fund manager Paul Greenwood, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to fraud involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Auctioneers were amazed when they visited his home to value the toys, and found the vast collection of Steiff bears, dogs, monkeys, lions, cats and elephants stored all over the property.

    "They are some of the best examples to come to market. They are all in exceptional condition. They range from the very early period right up to the 1960's and they are some of the rarest things to come to the market for a very long time," said Daniel Agnew, Christie's Teddy bear expert.

    The most valuable teddy bear is the 1925 Steiff Harlequin with red and blue mohair, which is estimated to fetch between £50,000 and £80,000.

    It was made as a one-off experiment by a Steiff member of staff who inserted a growl mechanism which was activated when the bear was turned upside down. It's since lost its voice, but auctioners hope it might still break the world record for a teddy which currently stands at £110,000.

    The collection of hand-made, hand-stuffed animals charts the history of the popular toy company from it's early days in 1890's right up to the 1970's.

    Agnew said the collection is so remarkable because it consists of many toys which were never manufactured, but were saved in perfect conditon by Steiff factory workers.

    "What's special about a lot of them is that their condition is absolutely exceptional. A lot of them have come previous employees of Steiff who have bought them and kept them and treasured them. Some items have never been manufactured, so it's these sort of prototypes and these samples that have all got their tags on and all in sparkling condition that are going to make the big money," he said.

    The day-long auction, which is expected to attract collectors from all over the world, is being held in London on Wednesday.