A HIGHLAND cottage owned by Jimmy Savile has sold for more than twice its guide price after a dramatic bidding war.
Allt Na Reigh went for £212,000 at an auction in Glasgow, as property developers and others bid for the Glen Coe cottage left by the disgraced television presenter.
The three-bedroom property had been put on the market by trustees of the late DJ’s estate for £100,000, and several bidders said they originally thought it unlikely it would sell at all.
Rival bidders told The Scotsman they believed the winning bid came from a mountaineering group keen to secure it for use as a base for climbs.
Savile, revealed after his death to have been one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, bought the whitewashed building in 1998. It was the target for vandals in the aftermath of the revelations, with the words “Jimmy the Beast” spray-painted on the walls.
Melfyn Williams, who led the auction for Ross Harper Property at the Grand Central Hotel last night, lowered the starting price to £80,000 after failing to secure interest.
However, a bidding war between several parties broke out after an initial offer. They included a couple in their 50s acting for the mountaineers, a pair who intended to transform the property into a guest house and an anonymous phone bidder.
Having passed £100,000, the bids quickly escalated to £120,000, £140,000 and on to £200,000, at which point an audible gasp was heard throughout the room.
Having settled at £203,000, the phone buyer raised his offer yet again, and the tense bidding then continued on to £212,000.
“The hammer is coming down, I need an answer”, Mr Williams told a lawyer acting for the phone bidder, who then dropped out.
Stuart Shuttleton, 48, from Ayrshire, was among those in the audience who said he had considered bidding for the cottage.
“It’s clearly an attractive setting and it would be popular as a guest house. We visit the area a great deal and we know the property”, he said.
“We might have put an offer in at £100,000 but not at the amount it went for. It wasn’t a bargain by any means.”
Among the bidders who offered nearly £200,000 for the cottage was a young European man and an older women, who said they had been keen to turn it into a guest house.
“It’s a fantastic location – we wanted it for a bed and breakfast. It’s a beautiful area but we couldn’t match the bid”, he said afterwards.”
The woman added: “We wish them the best of luck because the previous owner, Hamish MacInnes, was a mountaineer, so it would be fitting.”
In contrast, many of the other 29 property lots on offer had failed to sell and a flat in Port Glasgow went for only £5,000 – making it one of the cheapest properties in Scotland.
It was purchased by Gordon Weir, 77, from Bellshill, who said he hoped the Savile property was put to good use. “I spoke to people here tonight who had come along to see the sale, and they said, ‘You should knock it down, be rid of it’. But I think they should put it to good use. Something that will benefit people after all this stuff.”
Opinion has been divided over the future of the cottage.
While some have suggested it should be demolished, many mountaineers said it should be transformed into a museum dedicated to their sport.
Previous plans to turn the property into a respite care centre for disabled people were abandoned when the Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust closed in the wake of the scandal surrounding the former Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It host.
Detectives revealed in January they had recorded 214 alleged sex offences committed by Savile, who died in October 2011, aged 84. By March, there were 450 allegations against him.