The world’s most expensive antiques are rare and collectible. They are beautiful decorative items and ancient manuscripts that chronicle our past.
In many cases, the provenance of a piece is what attracts record prices at auction. Here are 8 antiques that have recently sold for more than $10 million.
Rothschild Fabergé Egg – $33 m
Commissioned by Beatrice de Rothschild in 1902 and crafted by the Russian Imperial Jeweller, Peter Carl Fabergé, the Rothschild Faberge Egg is an exquisite decorative timepiece. In 2007, it sold for $33 million.
It’s one of only a few Fabergé Eggs that were not made for the ill-fated Romanov family, and is displayed at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
Codex Leicester – $30.8 m
Handwritten by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century, the Codex Leicester is a 72-page notebook documenting some of the great man’s ideas on astronomy and the elements. It’s named after the Earl of Leicester, who owned the manuscript in 1719.
Purchased by Bill Gates for $30.8 million, the Codex has been digitally scanned and shared around the world. Once a year, the original unbound notebook is displayed in a different city.
Badminton Cabinet – $28.8m
Standing 3.8 metres tall, the Badminton Cabinet is an 18th-century Florentine chest, inlaid with lapis lazuli, agate, quartz and other colourful stones. It was commissioned by the third Duke of Beaufort, and constructed by 12 master craftsmen over a period of six years.
Named after the Duke’s country residence, Badminton House, the piece has twice set the record for the most expensive furniture ever sold. It is now permanently displayed in the Lichtenstein Museum in Vienna.
Artemis and the Stag – $28.6 m
Rated as one of the most beautiful works of art surviving from the Classical period, the 2 000 year-old bronze of the Greek Goddess of the Hunt was discovered at a construction site in Rome in the 1920s. It is remarkably well preserved and finely detailed.
In 2007, it was snapped up by a private buyer for $28.6 million, and promptly set the record as the most valuable sculpture ever sold. Today, the 91.4-centimetre piece is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Wittelsbach Diamond – $23.4 m
The Wittelsbach Diamond is a 31-carat blue diamond mined in India. The flawless stone has belonged to Philip IV of Spain, Crown Prince Charles Albert Wittelsbach of Bavaria and Louis III of Germany.
In 2008, it was sold to a London jeweller for $23.4 million, and re-cut to remove the scratches and blemishes created by centuries of wear and tear.
The Olyphant – $16.1 m
The Olyphant is an ivory hunting horn that dates to the 11th century. It features motifs of deer, rabbits, ducks and other beautifully hand-carved creatures.
Horns of this kind were predominantly made by Muslim craftsmen, and at one time were traded throughout Europe.
Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Tiara- $12.1 m
Commissioned by Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck for his second wife, this magnificent tiara was crafted by the French Royal Jeweller, Chaumet, in the early 1900s.
It’s composed of rare pear-shaped Colombian emeralds on a silver base studded with large cushion-cut diamonds and a row of exquisite diamond-encrusted laurels.
Wallis Simpson’s Panther Bracelet – $12.4 m
Designed by Cartier and once part of the British Royal Jewels collection, the panther bracelet is adorned with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. It was a gift from King Edward VIII to his paramour, Wallis Simpson.
The bracelet was sold for more than 12.4 million in 2010. Rumour has it that the buyer was pop icon, Madonna.
Using an antique to get a loan
Antiques are potentially high-value items you can use as collateral for personal, asset-based loans.
At lamna, we offer fast, discreet loans against the value of a wide range of assets, including antiques. For more information about using an asset to secure a short-term loan, contact us on 086 111 2866 or simply complete and submit our online application form.