An eclectic collection of jewels, works of art, photographs and ornate furniture amassed by the late Lord Glenconner – including gifts from Princess Margaret – is to be auctioned towards the upkeep of his estate on the Caribbean island of St Lucia, Patrick Sawer of London’s Telegraph reports.
It was the most celebrated – and sometimes the most decadent – place for Society to party.
Dowagers danced with rockstars, and Princess Margaret held court long into the humid tropical night, with the master of festivities immaculately dressed and holding a silver-topped cane.
Now the most private party pictures taken in Mustique have been made public as the possessions of the late Lord Glenconner are auctioned.
Not only were their subjects among the 20th century’s most famous figures, the takers were two of its most renowned photographers, Lord Lichfield and Robert Maplethorpe.
Lord Glenconner’s eclectic collection of jewels, works of art, photographs and ornate furniture – including gifts from Princess Margaret – is being auctioned towards the upkeep of his estate on the island of St Lucia, to where he moved after selling Mustique.
The sale is a sign that peace appears to have broken out between the widow of Lord Glenconner and the 47-year-old servant favoured by her husband in a surprise amendment to his will.
Two months ago it was revealed that Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner, had left the St Lucia estate, worth millions of pounds, to Kent Adonai, his trusted servant and sometime estate manager and elephant keeper of over 30 years who grew up in poverty in a nearby shanty town.
The change to the will, carried out seven months before his death, came as a shock to his widow Anne, Lady Glenconner, who had thought the property was being left to Cody Tennant, their 17-year-old grandson.
She told the Sunday Telegraph in June: “We are surprised. We feel Colin was very ill, that he changed his will, but was not well enough.”
She said the will trusted Mr Adonai “to carry out my husband’s wishes towards the family”, but added: “Kent is illiterate. He doesn’t seem aware of the wishes of the family.”
But now Lady Glenconner has given her blessing to the sale of her late-husband’s possessions at an auction being held at Bonhams, in London, next month.
The auction won her backing after trustees of the estate – designated a World Heritage Site for its stunning setting between two volcanic peaks – said the £1 million they hope to raise would be reinvested in the property.
In a foreword to the auction’s catalogue she says: “Colin was much loved in the Caribbean and I’m delighted to support this sale as it will enable the estate that Colin spent so much time developing to be maintained and to continue to provide a livelihood for many local people”
It is understood the proceeds of the auction will not go to Mr Adonai, but will be ploughed back into the maintenance and improvement of the estate, a stunning sweep of rainforest on the south-west coast of St Lucia, to ensure it continues to provide employment to local people.
A source said: “Lord Glenconner was a great employer of local people on the island and many St Lucians will benefit from the sale of his possessions.”
One of the most intriguing aspects of the collection are the numerous portraits and candid pictures taken by Lord Lichfield and Mapplethorpe during Lord Glenconner’s occupancy of Mustique, which he bought for £45,000 in 1958 and transformed from a barren isle into a glamorous playground for the rich.
Here he entertained the likes of Mick and Bianca Jagger, David Bowie, John Cleese and Sir David Frost, future Conservative cabinet minister Paul Channon and Princess Margaret.
The photographs were found in one of Lord Glenconner’s private family albums and offer a unique insight into the party-lifestyle cultivated by Lord Glenconner on Mustique. They are being sold individually framed, with estimates of £300-£500.
One shows Princess Margaret in a turban, dancing with Lord Glenconner. Another is of Mick Jagger, chatting with Lord Glenconner’s mother, Pamela, Lady Glenconner, at a fancy dress party in 1976.
One of the most striking is of the Princess, captured by Mapplethorpe in informal mood, wearing an ethnic robe, during her stay on the island in 1976.
Other items going under the hammer at the auction in New Bond Street, on September 28, include three gifts presented to Lord Glenconner by Princess Margaret.
These are a silver snuff box in the shape of a book, engraved “To Colin for your 50th birthday with Love from ‘crowned’ MR” and a pair of double-sided cufflinks in green chalcedony spheres – both estimated at £1,000-£1,500, along with a framed drawing of his house on Mustique, inscribed “To Colin with my best wishes for your 60th birthday with love Margaret”, estimated at £800-£1,200.
Lord Glenconner had given Princess Margaret a villa on the island of Mustique as a wedding present when she married the photographer, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, later Lord Snowdon, in 1960.
During the 1950s there had been speculation that Lord Glenconner, ex-Eton and Irish Guards, would make a suitable husband for the Princess, but they remained lifelong friends.
Among the most precious items being auctioned is a gem-set gold pendant from the treasury of Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the Indian province of Mysore during the late 18th century, estimated at £80,000-£120,000.
Also on sale are a rare 18th century south Indian carved emerald figurine, estimated at £40,000-£60,000, and a ornate 19th century Venetian cut and ruby glass six light chandelier, estimated at £4,000-£6,000.
Lord Glenconner moved to St Lucia in the early 80s after selling Mustique to a consortium headed by Hans Neumann, the Venezuelan paint manufacture.
He paid £200,000 for the Jalousie Plantation, nearly 500 acres of virgin rainforest, promptly selling half the land to a luxury holiday resort developer. On the rest he opened a restaurant called Bang Between the Pitons – after the two volcanic peaks which framed his property.
Here, it was said, guests could spot Princess Margaret dining a few tables along from members of Led Zeppelin eating banana and Mars Bar sandwiches.
Lord Glenconner’s life was touched by tragedy. His eldest son Charlie, a heroin addict, died of hepatitis in 1996. His second son Henry died of Aids in 1990, and his third and youngest son, Christopher, was disabled in a motorcycle accident in 1987.
Lord Glenconner himself struck a colourful figure on the island, until his death at the age of 83. He was frequently to be seen around the estate, wearing his trademark straw hat and loose white cotton shirts.
The hat is also being auctioned, along with his trusted rosewood cane, topped with a globular tiger’s eye finial.
For the original report go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/saintlucia/8726970/Auction-signals-peace-between-Lady-Glenconner-and-the-servant-who-inherited-her-husbands-estate.html