Hillary’s widow told to return watch put up for auction

November 12th, 2010 - 1:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Auckland, Nov 12 (IANS) The New Zealand government Friday asked the widow of Sir Edmund Hillary to return one of her late husband’s watches she has put up for auction - because of its historical importance.

A Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch was presented to Sir Edmund after he and Tenzing Norgay became the first men ever in the world to climb the 8,848-metre high Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953. Sir Edmund later wore the watch on the Trans-Antarctic expedition during 1953-58.

Lady June Hillary entered the watch for auction, proceeds from which were earmarked for charity work supporting education and health services in Nepal. The watch was estimated to fetch around $25,000.

The ministry for culture and heritage found that the watch has legal protection under the Protected Objects Act, and wrote to Lady Hillary’s lawyers Friday asking her to return it, the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA) reported.

Sir Edmund’s children, Peter and Sarah, were also granted a court injunction Friday to stop the auction.

Peter Hillary said it was “very sad” he and his sister had to take court action to stop their stepmother from going ahead with the sale.

“There have been a number of very significant items from the Ed Hillary collection that do belong to Sarah and I, that have been disposed of inappropriately,” he said.

“I believe that it (the auction) has been stopped for the time being and we are hopeful we can preserve these legacy items. They, along with a lot of other items, are of great significance to this family,” he said.

Sir Edmund died in January 2008.

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