IT has been revealed that the sum paid for the contents of Dumfries House in Ayrshire was £30m. The contents were acquired for the nation with the help of a loan from the Prince of Wales shortly before they were due to be sold at auction in 2007.

Prior to the 'sale that never was' in July of that year, Christie's pre-sale estimate for an array of primary provenanced Chippendale and other rococo furniture belonging to the Marquess of Bute was £11m-17.4m.

However, according to an investigation into the finances of the Prince of Wales' Trust, the real cost of stopping the sale was £40m – £10m for the house and £30m for the contents that had been priced conservatively for auction. The Prince borrowed £20m to boost the fund designed to keep the house and contents together.

Christie's (who produced a two-volume catalogue for the sale of 634 lots) and the estate agent Savills are understood to have been paid fees in the region of £3m.