Cabinet sold for record $36.7 million

LONDON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein paid a record $36.7 million Thursday for an Italian 18th century ebony cabinet inlaid with colorful stones.

The price knocked down at Christies in London was the highest price ever paid in world auction history for a non-pictorial work of art.


Dr. Johan Kraefter, who bid for the prince, said the piece of furniture, known as the Badminton Cabinet, will be displayed at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna of which Kraefter is director. He said it will be an appropriate centerpiece of a new gallery devoted to 17th century still life and flower paintings because the inlaid stonework (pietra dura) depicts birds and flowers.

The cabinet was made for Henry Somerset, the English duke of Beaufort, by the grand ducal workshops in Florence, Italy, in 1732, when the duke was only 19. It was sold at auction previously in 1990 at Christie's for $15.1 million, setting a record sales price for a non-pictorial work of art that was never broken until today.

The cabinet stands nearly 12 feet tall and is set with lapis lazuli, agate, jasper, chalcedony, quartz and other stones. It was consigned to sale by Barbara Piasecka Johnson, the Polish-born widow of an American pharmaceutical company heir.


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