It’s the kind of gilded giveaway that everyone wants – a 24-carat clear-out by one of the wealthiest women in Scotland. Fashion tycoon Vera Weisfeld is opening her myriad display cabinets to unload antique artefacts and desirable designer delights picked up during a lifetime of luxury shopping.
The multi-millionaire’s collection will go under the hammer later this week at McTear’s, allowing anyone to snap up a once-pricey painting or serving dishes by Christian Dior. However, this is no attempt to top up the Weisfeld fortune. Mrs Weisfeld is doing it all for charity.
The 81-year-old founder of ‘What Every Woman Wants’ is donating all the auction proceeds to the Kilbryde Hospice in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire. Said Vera: ”I have supported the hospice since the early days of it being established. It takes people from my home town of Coatbridge, so it’s rather personal to me.“These items have almost all been bought by me over the years, whether at Harrods in London or art galleries in the south of France. “I only struggled to let go of the bronze statuettes I’ve donated, but this gives someone else the chance to enjoy a nice piece, while helping the charity at the same time.”
The items in question include a bronze sculpture of Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous poet, much admired by Vera.Sitting 46cm high atop a marble base, the item has been given a ‘guide’ price range of £500-£800 when it goes up for sale at McTear’s Works of Art Auction in Glasgow on Friday.
There are two additional bronze statues of female nudes by the celebrated Italian artist Amadeo Fiorese, each estimated between £200 and £400. It was during the 1970’s that Vera and her husband Gerald forged their ‘What Every Woman Wants’ empire in Glasgow, going on to create an icon of the country’s fashion industry. Churning out Ra-Ra skirts for just £1, the chain won over a generation of women unable to afford the prices of more expensive fashion houses. Almost 30 years ago, in 1990, the couple sold their business for £50 million to Philip Green.
The sheer potential scale of her donation left the chief executive of Kilbryde Hospice “stunned, to say the least.”
Gordon McHugh said: ”She is a wonderful woman. When I saw the full list of items Mrs Weisfeld was donating, it began to dawn on me just how much money could potentially be raised. It costs £7000 per day to run the hospice so the final auction total could keep this place going – on its own – for weeks. The whole thing has been quite overwhelming.”
Well-known Scottish artists feature prominently in Friday’s auction, with several graduates of the Glasgow School of Art represented. Among them is the late Alan King, whose signed and framed “In my new striped trousers and red hat” has been given a guide price of between £600 and £800.
Fellow Art School graduate and official artist to the Tall Ships visit William Dobbie keeps things nautical with a portrait showing ‘The Waverley on the horizon’ at a guide of between £200 and £300. Mrs Weisfeld used her business eye to try and ensure everyone has a chance of snapping up something from the 150 items she has donated.
She explained:”My Christian Dior plates were bought as a set but I thought they would be too expensive if sold as a whole, which is why the collection has been split up. “These things are part of my life. But I am 81 now and while they have given me pleasure, I will also be getting pleasure by giving them away. “It’s great that, in the process, it may help the older generation of Lanarkshire. The Kilbryde Hospice does a wonderful job and I would encourage people to do anything they can to help them.”
Brian Clements from McTear’s said: “We are delighted to be holding this auction. The collection is hugely impressive, with some very interesting, and very collectible, individual items. Kilbryde Hospice do fantastic work and I am sure the sale will raise a significant amount for this very worthy cause.”
McTears have a web page, which explains how you can take part in the auction in person, by phone or over the internet. Visit here.
Don’t miss the auction on Friday 19th July for your chance to bid on paintings by Gerard Burns, luxury items by Christian Dior, Swarovski and Versace as well as furniture large and small.