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Romanians Mark Ceausescu Centenary With Memorabilia Auction

A man holds a portrait of late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu at the tomb of Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, at Ghencea Cemetery in Bucharest on January 26.

A Romanian auction house has marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu with a sale of his clothes, vintage toilet paper, and other memorabilia.

The ironically named Golden Era online auction, organized on January 31 by the Artmark auction house, included some 250 items, including a fur-lined hunting cap worn by Ceausescu, who was an avid hunter. It sold for 400 euros ($500).

Bespoke shoes and a purse in mint-green leather made for his wife, Elena Ceausescu, fetched 600 euros ($750). A single roll of vintage toilet paper, which was scarce in the late days of communism, went for 10 euros ($12.5).

On January 26, the 100th anniversary of his birthday, a small group of die-hard, mostly elderly supporters gathered to mourn at his grave in a Bucharest cemetery.

Other historical items sold in the auction include a 1975 invitation to dinner from the last shah of Iran and a New Year's card from U.S. President Gerald Ford.

It also included a photo of U.S. President Richard Nixon, who visited Romania in 1969 -- the year after Ceausescu refused to join the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. That was seen as an act of rebellion that for a while earned him a reputation in the West as a maverick leader within the Soviet bloc.

One of the most expensive items, a large wool carpet featuring Ceausescu's beaming face, along with Vlad the Impaler and other Romanian heroes, sold for 1,600 euros ($2,000), twice the starting price.

Ceausescu came to power in 1965 and was popular until the early 1970s, riding a wave of a nationalist brand of communism.

He later attempted to turn Romania into a North-Korean style hereditary dictatorship, with the official communist media dubbing his rule the Golden Era, while a large majority of Romanians suffered from hunger and cold, and were subjected to surveillance by the dreaded Securitate secret police.

Ceausescu's rule ended in December 1989, when the dictator and his wife were executed after a hasty and controversial trial following a bloody popular uprising in which more than 1,000 people were killed.

With reporting by AP