An ornate key designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to open Glasgow School of Art has sold for £32,000. Part of the proceeds will help fund the restoration of the fire-damaged building. The former owner of the key and auction house Lyon and Turnbull will donate a percentage of the sale to the Mackintosh Campus Appeal, the £32 million fundraising campaign launched following the blaze in the Mackintosh Building in May 2014.
Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the opening ceremony of the building he designed, the key was presented to Sir James King, the Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1886-9. The key, which has not been seen in public since the opening ceremony on December 20, 1899, achieved a hammer price of £32,000 at the sale at Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh.
It was bought by Sir Ludo Shaw Stewart, owner of the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip, Inverclyde where it will go on show at Ardgowan House. He said “I am delighted that the key will remain in Scotland, it will take pride of place on show at Ardgowan House. The key is a beautiful object and we look forward to welcoming it to its new home.”
Sir James King, who sold the key and is the direct descendant of the former provost who opened the building with it, said: “I am delighted that a percentage of today’s sale will be donated to the restoration fund for the Mackintosh Campus Appeal.
“If this beautiful and symbolic key can help unlock even just a little support from today’s entrepreneurs to restore this Glaswegian cultural masterpiece it will have done its job inspiring future generations.”