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Spanish court blocks London auction of Columbus letter

The letter, written on April 29, 1498 by Columbus to his son Diego, was being put up for auction by a foundation run by the House of Alba, one of Spain’s noblest and richest families. A Madrid High Court ruled in favour of a ban on sending the letter out of the country after the culture ministry opposed the sale on the ground that it was an invaluable and intrinsic part of Spain’s cultural heritage, a decision which the Alba Foundation challenged in court. The House of Alba is now headed by Carlos Martínez de Irujo, after the death of his flamboyant billionaire mother María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva in November aged 88.

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