Winston Churchill's velvet slippers sell for almost £40,000 at auction

A glass once belonging to the British prime minister also went under the hammer, fetching £18,000

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They're usually battered, a bit threadbare and a bedside bargain – but one pair of slippers sold for almost £40,000 ($55,500) this week.

That breathtaking sum is, however, entirely thanks to their previous owner.

A pair of velvet, embroidered slippers that once belonged to former British prime minister Winston Churchill went under the hammer in the UK on Tuesday, with the sale price more than doubling the estimate.

The navy shoes, which are inscribed with the politician's initials – WSC – in golden thread, sold for £32,000 ($44,441), which rose to £39,040 ($54,219) once the buyer’s premium was added.

The slippers, which date back to the 1950s, were expected to fetch between £10,000 ($13,888) and £15,000 ($20,832). They were crafted by shoemaker Nikolaus Tuczek, who owned a shop in London's Mayfair.

Churchill was prime minister of the UK from 1940 to 1945, during the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955.

His slippers were sold to a private UK collector, Bellmans Auctioneers said, after being bought by their previous owner in 1998.

"Sir Winston Churchill is still highly regarded around the world and we had interest from both the media and from buyers from all over the world," said auctioneer Julian Dineen.

“It was only the second opportunity to acquire these wonderful items and especially the slippers saw significant interest.”

Also sold during the auction was a balloon glass that belonged to the wartime leader.

The 21-centimetre glass, which was expected to sell for £7,000-£10,000 ($9,715-$13,888), eventually went for £18,300 ($25,397), including the buyer’s premium.