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The High Court ruled the 502 pieces should be divided between the heirs which could lead to parts of the extensive collection being sold.

It is one of the largest privately owned collections of late Ming and early Qing dynasty porcelain.

A last ditch appeal was launched this month by the youngest beneficiary, Katharine Butler, to keep the collection together.

The collection has been housed in a private museum close to the family home in Mapperton, Dorset since 2010.

The dispute began after the death of Sir Michael in 2013. Siblings Caroline, James, Katharine and Charles inherited the collection equally. Shortly after his death Sir Michael’s elder children, Caroline and James, asked for the collection to be split up, so that they could take possession of their share.

Katharine and Charles resisted and said they wanted their father’s wishes to keep the collection together to be honoured.

Plan To Appeal

In 2014 Caroline and James issued proceedings and in July the High Court ruled the four children were entitled to take 125 pieces each.

Law firm Harcus Sinclair has now launched an application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal on behalf of Katharine.

The collection cannot be split until a decision on this appeal is made.

Previously Katharine had asked the Art Fund to help but her application failed as the fund said it cannot “interfere with a legal ruling”.

Katharine hopes her appeal is successful so she can raise funds to buy her siblings out.

Sir Michael amassed the collection over 50 years and although it is insured for £8m, some experts believe it is worth significantly more.