Wilde prison key unlocks €17,890 at auction
The key to Oscar Wilde's prison cell has been sold for an incredible £15,000 (€17,890) at Sotheby's auction.
The key, along with a number of English literature-themed items, went under the hammer yesterday.
But the key, mounted in a wooden presentation box, drew significant attention from bidders - it was only estimated to reach €6,000.
It was sold with a framed statement "from Leslie Portch, governor of HM Prison Reading".
Wilde was imprisoned in 1895. He was incarcerated for two years for the crime of "gross indecency" at a time when homosexual acts were illegal.
Another item of note at the London auction was an early copy of 'The Importance of Being Earnest', which sold for £23,125 (€27,595).
The book, which was signed by the author in 1899, was one of just 100 copies printed on lavender cloth with small gilt designs by Charles Shannon.
Separately, a portrait of Oscar Wilde, once owned by the writer, will go on display for the first time in the UK - alongside his prison cell door at Reading Gaol.
The painting was given to Wilde and his new wife Constance as a wedding present, but he later sold it after being declared bankrupt.
The door and the painting will be on display next to each other at Tate Britain next year.