Cuba humidor auction tops $1.1M in Havana
HAVANA (AP) -- Cigar enthusiasts paid more than (EURO)798,000 ($1.1 million) for six handmade Cuban humidors early Saturday at the gala closing of Havana's 16th annual Cigar Festival.
The hot item was a one-of-a-kind handcrafted humidor packed with Montecristo cigars that fetched (EURO)170,000 ($235,000).
Welsh crooner Tom Jones was among the invitees at Saturday's auction and sang three songs for attending guests, including his signature "It's Not Unusual."
"I love Cuban cigars to start with. I started smoking Cuban cigars in the `60s and I've never been to Cuba before. So this was a wonderful opportunity to come," Jones said.
The most expensive Cuban cigars, currently the Cohiba Behike, can cost upward of (EURO)50 ($69) each in Europe and Canada.
Officials said this week that sales of Cuban cigars rose 8 percent last year, despite increasing anti-smoking measures around the world, continued recession fears in Europe and the U.S. embargo which bars Americans from purchasing island-made stogies.
While Europe remains the top market for Cuban cigar brands, sales in Asian nations including China are growing.
Proceeds from the auction were to go to Cuba's state-run health-care system.