The record-breaking Badminton Cabinet, sold for £17m at Christie’s last week.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

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 spring.