Man in 330,000 dollar truffle bid
A Macau casino mogul bid 330,000 dollars (£211,660) for a pair of white truffles, including one weighing nearly a kilogram, matching the record price he paid at the same event three years ago for one of the giant tubers.
Billionaire Stanley Ho made the winning bid at a charity auction through representatives of his company, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau.
The pair included a huge truffle dug up in the central Tuscany region weighing 900 grams (about two pounds) as well as one found in Molise weighing in at 400 grams (about 14 ounces).
The auction was staged at Ho's Grand Lisboa hotel in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, with bidders participating simultaneously in Rome and London through satellite link.
In 2007, Ho paid 330,000 dollars (£211,660) for a white truffle unearthed in Tuscany weighing 1.497 kilograms (about 3.3 pounds).
Ho is best known for his casino monopoly in Macau, a gambling enclave in southern China near Hong Kong.
Sixteen lots of white truffles from different areas in Italy went on the block, raising a total of 373,500 dollars (£239,561) for various charities in Macau, Britain and Italy.
White truffles are the most expensive and highly prized of Italy's truffles, and among the most famous are those from Alba in the northern Piedmont region, where pigs or dogs are used to sniff them out during the September-December hunting season.
During the autumn truffle season in Italy, restaurants offer pasta and other dishes containing the edible fungus at sky-high prices.
Slivers of the delicacy, with its strong aroma, are prized to flavour pasta sauces and rice dishes.