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Golden Fleece Attracts Record Price

<i> Reuters</i>

Was it smart buying or just woolly thinking?

A Japanese suit company has paid a record $924,000 for a 255-pound bale of wool at auction last week.

Although not the golden fleece of legend, the bale is under armed guard awaiting export.

Fiber experts have judged it to be technically the finest ever produced in Australia.

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Ranchers Ian and Kaye Appledore selected the highest quality wool off the backs of 190 of the 600 pedigree sheep they raise in luxury conditions.

All are housed in sheds to protect them from summer heat and winter cold. Each has its own jacket to keep off wool-damaging dust, and is hand-fed a special, undisclosed diet.

Aoki International of Japan bought the bale after a furious bidding war with a rival Italian fashion house.

The Australian Financial Review estimates 30 suits could be made from the bale, each needing $30,000 worth of wool.

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