Breaking its own record as the most expensive piece of furniture ever sold at auction, this massive, 12ft 8in (3.86m) high, 18th century Florentine ebony, ormolu and pietra dura architectural display piece known as The Badminton Cabinet brought Christie’s December 9 sale of European furniture to a dramatic climax last week when it sold for £17m (£19,045,250 including premium).
The ultimate Grand Tour souvenir, which takes its name from
Badminton House, home of the 3rd Duke of Beaufort for whom it was
made in the Florentine Grand Ducal workshops around 1720-32, it
established an auction high for any piece of furniture back in 1990
in the same London rooms when it sold for £7.8m to the current
vendor, pharmaceutical heiress Barbara Piasceka Johnson.
Last week bidding opened at £4m and although there were four
bidders in total, the main contest was a tense and protracted
battle between the successful purchaser, Dr Johan Kraeftner,
director of the Vienna-based Liechtenstein Museum who was acting on
behalf of Prinz Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, and a telephone
bidder. The museum hopes to have the cabinet on show by next
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