Sam Cam's Fiat Went for a Bomb: But Amy Winehouse Shows a Previous Celeb Owner Isn't Always a Plus

30/11/2012 16:19 GMT | Updated 30/01/2013 10:12 GMT

SAMANTHA Cameron's Fiat 500 sold at auction for just north of £18,000 this month - a cool £10,000 MORE than experts predicted.

The Prime Minister bought the car - the sort you see pootling around Turin and Rome in classic Italian movies - for her birthday in 1998.

Separately, Paul McCartney's vintage Aston Martin, driven by the former Beatle at the height of his 60s fame, recently sold for a staggering £344,000.

It's a nice car, but the final price for the dark blue 1964 DB5 - even including its built-in record player - again astonished auctioneers.

A guitar once owned by Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix or John Squire will now sell for many times the actual physical value to a collector.

But my all time favourite story is the sale - for the, er, princely sum of £230 - of a piece of toast said to have come from Prince Charles's breakfast on his wedding day to Princess Diana.

I just thought that was fantastic.

I mean, who has the foresight to keep a piece of toast? How do you preserve it for posterity? Most importantly, perhaps, how do you prove it was Charles's toast, and from his wedding day? Rigorous DNA testing coupled with carbon dating, possibly?

But is the same true with houses? Will a famous affiliation push the price up considerably? Well, you'd certainly think so, especially if the buyer is a collector or fan of the former owner or tenant.

In 2002, Yoko Ono paid a record £150,000 for 251 Menlove Avenue, Liverpool, the somewhat undistinguished yet historically interesting (at least for music fans) property where John Lennon once lived with his Aunt Mimi.

Lennon described the house as a 'nice semi-detached place with a small garden'.

But the price was undoubtedly many times what a similarly sized and appointed Liverpool property, minus the Beatles connection, would go for during an ordinary sale.

Ono donated the house to the National Trust, but it's a fair bet that were someone living there, they would be under siege from sightseers.

It would be like living in a museum and I don't doubt many fans would simply walk in and start poking around if you left the door open. Imagine that, certainly no Heaven.

The same probably goes for the neighbours. Indeed, it's not implausible that there might even be downward pressure on prices for nearby homes as a result of the interest. Though by the same notion, some buyers might relish living next door to where their childhood hero grew up, smoked his first fag and penned his early hits.

Another issue would be the mortgage (though obviously not for Yoko Ono). The fact that a property might sell for a considerable sum because of a celebrity connection might make it worth that to the eventual buyer. But it doesn't necessarily follow that they could actually get a mortgage for that amount.

If the property in question, like Lennon's, is effectively a small semi, I have a feeling a professional surveyor would value the bricks and mortar rather than the celeb connection because, even in the case of a former Beatle, fashions and celebrity popularity or otherwise might change over time.

In fact a celebrity connection is not always good news. Sometimes it can be a distinctly double-edged sword when it comes to selling.

A case in point is Amy Winehouse's period home in Camden, north London. The three-bedroom, four-storey home is where the Back to Black singer tragically died of alcohol poisoning aged just 27 in July 2011.

It was originally put up for sale earlier this year for £2.7million but failed to find a buyer.

Now the house, the pavement outside which became an impromptu shrine and still attracts gawkers, is to be auctioned with a discounted guide price of nearly a million pounds less than the originally asking figure.

That's why houses with a historical - rather than celebrity - attraction might be a safer bet for a property investment. After all, with the modern celeb, pop star or TV personality, you run the risk of living in a tourist attraction - and paying a premium for the privilege.

There was a lot of interest some years ago when the childhood home of Robert Roy MacGregor, the Scottish folk hero that Liam Neeson did a darn fine job of playing in Rob Roy, came up for auction. It went for something like three times the guide price (I know because I was the under bidder).

A historical link gives an atmosphere, there might even be the impression that some of the creativity or glamour of previous inhabitants might rub off. On the other hand, homes that are linked to tragedy can often deter buyers.

People can be superstitious when it comes to property and easily dissuaded by the thought of a 'bad' atmosphere.

Over the years I've visited a few properties where it's an estate sale after the owner has died. Even before you know the details, there's sometimes a strange or unquantifiable feeling. Doo, doo, doo, doo....doo, doo, doo, doo!

That might account for the initial lack of interest in Amy Winehouse's former home, as well as the unwanted attention of fans it will undoubtedly continue to attract.

Having said that, others might savour living in the much missed star's undoubtedly nice home in a sought-after part of trendy north London.

I'll be watching with interest when it finally goes under the hammer.