Last week analysts called on the Royal and SunAlliance (R&SA) board to make a statement about boosting its reserves to cover further US asbestos liabilities.

No direct statement was made. So where is the board going to find the cash?

The answer could be found at auction house Christie's this week.

A collection of R&SA art, memorabilia, fine wines and cigars will go under the hammer today, which Christie's says could raise up to £2m.

Items include pictures of former directors of Phoenix Fire Company and London Assurance dating back to the late 1700s, which were painted by leading Royal Academy students of the time.

Also available with the vintage fire buckets and Louis XVI chandeliers are bottles of Chateau Latour, Petrus, a range of vintage ports and boxes of Montecristo.

According to the Christie's catalogue, these items were "laying in Twickenham", the very location of retiring UK commercial insurance director Duncan Boyle's former home.

Is this the ultimate fire sale or just Boyle getting ready for his leaving party?