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      Cuba humidor auction tops $1.1M in Havana

      HAVANA (AP) - Cigar enthusiasts paid more than €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 €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 €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.
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