THE deadly sin of avarice was the theme of this large 16th century Flemish tapestry, but the warning failed to temper the desire of bidders when it came up at Skinner's most recent sale of European furniture and decorative arts in Boston in the USA on April 11.

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The 16th century Flemish tapestry which sold at Skinner’s sale in Boston for $200,000 (£145,985).

Thanks to its size, subject and condition, it was taken well above the $30,000-50,000 estimate and was finally knocked down at $200,000 (£145,985) - plus 18.5/10% buyer's premium. It also had an attractive provenance, having been given to the vendor by William Randolph Hearst.

The 18ft 3in x 14ft 1in (5.56 x 4.29m) wool tapestry depicted an elaborate allegorical scene with the main focus on a courtly procession in the foreground and a woman riding a griffin holding aloft a money purse in the centre.

In the corners were smaller vignettes of a group of men taking a charge on horseback and another group with a woman picking up golden orbs and an angel holding a chalice.

It had a foliate vine border with the Latin motto to the lower band reading Placing the lowest of aims before the loftiest 'Avarice' breaks from the path and knows not of honor of the highway.

By Alex Capon