A FORMER youth hostel is selling off its contents – including fabulous Italian sculptures worth £500,000.
While most youth hostels are known for bunk beds and outside toilets, Carbisdale Castle boasted marble statues up to 200 years old and dozens of nineteenth-century paintings.
For years weary hill walkers would get a shock when they traipsed in from the hills in the Scottish Highlands to be greeted by life size models of Venus and Cupid.
The huge castle with 40 bedrooms fast became a favourite for anyone exploring the rugged landscape and bagging nearby munros in the Kyle of Sutherland.
Backpackers and outdoor junkies with muddy boots and midge bites would find themselves sharing a roof with works by some of the best European sculptors of all time.
That included a white marble a statute of Andromeda by Italian sculptor Pasquale Romanelli estimated to fetch £120,000 and David Watson Stevenson’s Nymph at the Stream.
While among the painting to gaze upon while eating soggy sandwiches were nineteenth century copies of Raphael’s Madonna della sedia, and Titian Venus of Urbino worth thousands of pounds.
The castle was put on the market last year for £1.2m and now the much sought after antiques are up for sale first time in more than 100 years.
The items were collected by the formidable Mary Caroline, Dowager Duchess of Sutherland.
Married three times she built-up it up with the inheritance from her second husband – 3rd Duke of Sutherland.
The battle over the Duke’s estate was not a friendly one, however, and Mary Caroline found herself sentenced to six weeks imprisonment for destroying documents related to the will.
The eventual agreement of a financial settlement stipulated that the family of the Duke construct a residence befitting her station.
In 1906 construction stated on Carbisdale Castle – the last castle to be built in Scotland – which Mary Caroline decorated with painting and statues.
In 1947 it was donated to the Scottish Youth Hostels Association by Captain Harold Salvesen – complete with the art collection.
It was used as a hostel until 2011 but it is understood now a mystery buyer is lined-up to restore the castle to its former glory.
Its contents will be put under the hammer in London next month.
Christopher Mason, of auction house Sotheby’s, said the collection encompasses the “elegant Neoclassicism of the early part of the century to the fantastical Romanticism of the Belle Époque years”.
He continued: “The works on offer shine a light not only on collecting tastes at the height of the British Empire, but also on how sculptors of the period created works of astonishing beauty and grace through their masterful handling of marble.”
Keith Legge, CEO, Scottish Youth Hostels Associations, said: “It has been a privilege to have been the custodian of Carbisdale Castle and its contents for the past 70 years enabling our members and guests to experience living in a castle.
“The proceeds of the sale will be used to sustain SYHA’s diverse youth hostel network of affordable fit-for-purpose accommodation, allowing everyone, but especially young people, to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer.”