published Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Art owned by T.S. Eliot's wife fetches $11.3 million

LONDON — A trove of artwork collected by poet T.S. Eliot's widow has sold for more than 7 million pounds ($11.3 million) at auction.

Valerie Eliot, who died last November aged 86, bought the artworks with royalties from the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Cats," which was based on her husband's volume of light verse "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats."

The collection auctioned Wednesday in London by Christie's included drawings and watercolors by 18th- and 19th-century British artists and sculptors including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, and David Hockney.

A landscape by John Constable, "Helmingham Dell, Suffolk," fetched 662,500 pounds — a record for the artist at auction.

Proceeds from the auction will go to Old Possum's Practical Trust, an arts charity Valerie Eliot set up.

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