Rennie Mackintosh School of Art key sells for £32,000

Percentage of the sale will go towards restoring the building which was devastated by fire in 2014.

Key: Sir James King with Eva Bolamder, Lord provost of Glasgow. <strong>SWNS</strong>
Key: Sir James King with Eva Bolamder, Lord provost of Glasgow. SWNS

A key designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to open Glasgow School of Art has sold for £32,000 to help raise funds for the restoration of the fire-damaged institution.

The former owner of the key and auction house Lyon & Turnbull will donate a percentage of the sale to the Mackintosh Campus Appeal, the £32m fundraising campaign launched following the blaze which devastated the Mackintosh Building in May 2014.

Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh especially 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, by six-year-old Mary Newbery, daughter of Fra Newbery, director of The Glasgow School of Art.

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 & Turnbull in Edinburgh on Wednesday.


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.”

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