Top 10 Most Expensive Secondhand Furniture in the World

by Jul 10, 2024Blog0 comments

In furniture, history and craftsmanship can turn ordinary pieces into extraordinary treasures. While new furniture can be expensive, some secondhand items, especially those with significant historical value or unique craftsmanship, can fetch astronomical prices. Here, we explore the top 10 most expensive secondhand furniture pieces ever sold, highlighting their unique attributes and the stories behind their hefty price tag

The Badminton Cabinet – $36.7 million

Crafted in Florence in the 18th century, the Badminton Cabinet is a masterpiece of Baroque art. Made from ebony and encrusted with semi-precious stones, it took six years to complete. This stunning piece features intricate depictions of birds, flowers, and other natural motifs using precious materials like lapis lazuli, agate, and jasper. Commissioned by Henry Somerset, the 3rd Duke of Beaufort, the cabinet derives its name from the Duke’s residence, Badminton House. Its record-breaking sale for $36.7 million at a Christie’s auction in 2004 was a testament to its unparalleled craftsmanship and historical significance. The buyer, Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein, acquired it for the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, ensuring its preservation and public display.

The Dragons Chair by Eileen Gray – $28 million

Designed by Irish architect and furniture designer Eileen Gray, the Dragons Chair is an icon of Art Deco design. Created between 1917 and 1919, this chair is renowned for its elaborate dragon motif carved into its armrests. Gray’s innovative approach to design combined luxury with functionality, which is evident in this piece. The chair’s high value is also attributed to its provenance; it once belonged to Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, and was part of their prestigious art collection. The chair fetched $28 million at a 2009 auction in Paris, highlighting the enduring allure of Gray’s work and the added prestige of its previous owners.

The Harrington Commode – $5.1 million

The Harrington Commode, an exquisite example of English Rococo furniture, was crafted by renowned cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale in the 18th century. This commode features intricate marquetry depicting floral designs, birds, and classical motifs. The combination of walnut, mahogany, and other exotic woods showcases Chippendale’s exceptional skill and eye for detail. Sold for $5.1 million at Sotheby’s in 2010, it set a record for English furniture. The commode’s historical significance is enhanced by its association with the Earl of Harrington, making it a prized piece for collectors and historians alike.

The Tufft Table – $4.6 million

Created by Thomas Tufft in 1775, the Tufft Table is a fine example of American Chippendale furniture. This table is celebrated for its intricate carvings, including ball-and-claw feet, pierced stretchers, and foliated details. Made from mahogany, it embodies the elegance and sophistication of 18th-century American craftsmanship. It fetched $4.6 million at a Christie’s auction in 1990, making it one of the most expensive pieces of American furniture ever sold. Its value is a testament to Tufft’s reputation as one of the premier cabinetmakers of his time and the table’s exceptional state of preservation.

The George II Parcel-Gilt Padouk Cabinet – $3.9 million

This mid-18th century cabinet, attributed to Thomas Chippendale, showcases extraordinary craftsmanship with its intricate carvings and gilt embellishments. Made from padouk wood, a rare and luxurious material, the cabinet features a complex design with rococo motifs, including shells, foliage, and scrolls. Its gilt accents highlight the opulence typical of Chippendale’s high-end creations. Sold for $3.9 million in 2008, this cabinet underscores the lasting value of Chippendale’s work and its continued admiration among collectors. Its historical context, associated with the reign of King George II, adds to its prestige and desirability.

The Florentine Pietra Dura Table – $3.5 million

The Florentine Pietra Dura Table, crafted in Italy during the Renaissance, is renowned for its intricate stone inlay work, known as pietra dura. This technique involves the use of semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, agate, and jasper to create elaborate, mosaic-like designs. The table’s surface features detailed scenes of flowers, birds, and landscapes, showcasing the exceptional skill of Renaissance artisans. Sold for $3.5 million in 2005, the table’s value is a testament to the enduring appeal of Florentine craftsmanship and the meticulous artistry that characterises pietra dura work.

The Roentgen Writing Desk – $3.4 million

Made by David Roentgen in the 18th century, the Roentgen Writing Desk is a marvel of mechanical ingenuity and craftsmanship. Roentgen, known for his innovative designs and precision, created furniture that often featured hidden compartments and elaborate mechanical features. This particular desk, sold for $3.4 million at a 2012 auction, exemplifies his talent. It includes multiple secret drawers and spring-loaded mechanisms, all seamlessly integrated into an elegant design. The desk’s intricate mechanisms and superb craftsmanship reflect the high standards of 18th-century European furniture making.

The Louis XV Ormolu-Mounted Bureau – $2.8 million

This bureau, crafted in the mid-18th century for King Louis XV, features exquisite ormolu mounts and intricate marquetry. Ormolu, a technique involving gilded bronze, was used to create detailed, decorative mounts that enhance the bureau’s elegance. The marquetry, made from a variety of exotic woods, depicts elaborate floral and geometric patterns. Sold for $2.8 million in 2003, this piece is a prime example of French royal furniture, reflecting the opulence and artistic excellence of the Louis XV period. Its historical significance and exceptional craftsmanship contribute to its high value.

The Carlo Bugatti Chair – $2.6 million

Carlo Bugatti, known for his unique and eclectic designs, created this chair in the early 20th century. Bugatti’s work often incorporated influences from Art Nouveau, Japanese, and Moorish styles, resulting in furniture that was both innovative and luxurious. This particular chair, with its unusual shapes and use of materials such as inlaid wood, parchment, and hammered copper, fetched $2.6 million at a 2015 auction. The chair’s distinctive design and Bugatti’s reputation for avant-garde furniture make it a valuable collector’s item and a testament to his lasting impact on furniture design.

The Marie Antoinette’s Armchair – $2.5 million

Once owned by Marie Antoinette, this armchair is a symbol of French elegance and history. Crafted in the 18th century, it features exquisite upholstery and detailed carvings that reflect the refined tastes of the French court. The chair’s provenance, having belonged to one of France’s most famous queens, adds significant historical value. Sold for $2.5 million in 2018, it represents a piece of French heritage, embodying the luxury and sophistication associated with Marie Antoinette and the opulent lifestyle of the French aristocracy.

Conclusion

These secondhand furniture pieces represent the pinnacle of historical craftsmanship and design. Their high prices are not just a reflection of their age or materials, but of the stories and legacies they carry. For collectors and connoisseurs, owning such pieces is akin to holding a piece of history, a testament to the enduring value of exquisite craftsmanship and design.

For those seeking quality secondhand furniture in Perth, e Furniture Repurposing is the best choice. With a wide variety of secondhand furniture, we ensure that our customers find items that not only serve practical purposes but also add character and charm to their spaces. e Furniture Repurposing offers an unparalleled shopping experience, bringing history and style into your home.

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