In fact, Sir Fitzroy Maclean was so full of derring-do that he is reputed to have been the “real James Bond”, inspiring Ian Fleming when he created the famous fictional secret agent.
It seems he did not share every trait with 007, however, as when Sir Fitzroy went home, all he wanted was a comfortable place to lay his head.
Now the Edwardian mahogany bed that was favoured by Sir Fitzroy for more than 40 years – as it helped to alleviate the back pain he suffered as a result of his parachuting and other escapades – is going up for sale in the Capital.
He died in 1996, but his family is only now putting the bed up for sale. It is expected to sell for at least £1000 when it goes under the hammer at Bonhams auction house on February 16, but there are hopes it could go much higher if a Bond fan takes up the bidding.
Bonhams’ head of furniture, Bruce Addison, said: “The bed came from his stepson. It was originally in Strachure in Argyle, the family seat.
“It’s a very elegant bed and we haven’t factored in the provenance when we priced it at £1000 to £1500, but I think the link is going to be very helpful.
“He’s a remarkable man by any account and I think that is going to make the estimate rather conservative.
“I gather Ian Fleming was in the naval intelligence in the Second World War and was an acquaintance of Sir Fitzroy, and Ian Fleming’s brother Peter was also a friend of Fitzroy Maclean, so they moved in the same social circles.
“Sir Fitzroy was the real-life incarnation of Bond.”
The links between Sir Fitzroy and Bond have certainly boosted auction sales in the past. In 2008, a collection of first-edition Bond novels from Maclean’s own library sold for £26,000 in Edinburgh.
Book specialist Henry Baggott added: “I spent a number of years selling Ian Fleming first editions. I didn’t know much about Sir Fitzroy until this came around but there are a number of people that it’s thought might have been the inspiration for James Bond.
“To have something which is connected to him in a different way and is totally unique is very exciting.”
THRILLED BY 007 SPECULATION
OLD Etonian Fitzroy Maclean rose rapidly through the ranks of the Cameron Highlanders to become Brigadier.
In 1942 he joined the newly formed SAS at the invitation of founder David Stirling.
He is thought to have crossed paths with Ian Fleming during diplomatic postings.
His widow, Veronica Maclean, said her husband had been thrilled at the speculation that he was the inspiration for 007, but insisted he was never himself a spy.