Romania: Ceausescu's fancy hunting rifle sells for $37,000

Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu's most treasured firearm, a Holland & Holland hunting rifle was sold at auction on Tuesday.

The gold-embellished gun, commissioned for King Carol II in 1933, was sold for 32,500 euros ($37,000) to a buyer online, exceeding the starting price of 12,000 euros ($13,700). The sale generated applause at the auction held in the ornate Cesianu-Racovita Palace in downtown Bucharest.

Ceausescu was an avid hunter, though reportedly not a crack shot. He went hunting on Dec. 10, 1989, two weeks before he and his wife were executed after a summary trial. Though he officially was credited with killing 400 animals, he was said to be a poor shot, so his companions would shoot his quarry.

After the monarchy was abolished at the end of WWII, the communists confiscated the royal rifle. Decades later it came into Ceausescu's possession, and his name was engraved on it.

As bidding heated up, the auctioneer teased would-be buyers: "Now's your chance to legally confiscate it."

"The Holland & Holland rifle is top of the range, the most luxurious," Cristian Gavrila, an evaluator at Artmark auction house, told The Associated Press earlier. "It is attractive for anyone even without the story of Romanian royalty and Ceausescu."

The passion for hunting continues in Romania.

A total of 15 antique rifles and pistols will go under the hammer Tuesday evening.