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Peterborough - Festival of Antiques

The Most Expensive Antiques Ever Sold

Some of the most expensive antique and vintage items ever sold, for what price they were sold, and how they were acquired.

There are many factors to what would make an antique item worth more than its counterparts, the items rarity, condition, and craftsmanship are the main factors that go into determining its worth. However, other points that can raise the value include who owned the item previously (provenance), and the historical significance of the item. What is most valuable in this world? Why are certain antiques more valuable than others?

The Most Expensive Antiques Ever Sold - Festival of Antiques

Some of the Most Expensive Antiques Ever Sold

Salvator Mundi

First on our list of very expensive items is the famous Salvator Mundi (Latin: Savior of the world) painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. 450 million dollars is what it sold for, making each brushstroke worth thousands of dollars. In 1958 this very same painting sold at Sotheby’s for £45. That’s quite a price increase. The image is a very lifelike depiction of the Christ, dressed in a manner representing British colonial affluence, holding his right hand up in a blessing while his left hand holds a clear glass orb down at his side. This piece of art is mesmerising, to say the least. A Saudi Prince is now the proud owner of this particular piece of art, having bought it at auction in October of 2017. This painting is a certified genuine work of Leonardo Da Vinci and is the only of his works which is privately held.

Price: 450 mill

Pink Star

Second on our list is the 59.6 carat “Pink Star”, an internally flawless, vivid pink diamond that fetched a whopping 83 million dollars after just a 5-minute bidding session at Sotheby’s in 2017. Overtaking its predecessor the Oppenheimer Blue for most expensive Gemstone in the world at 50 million dollars, this “CTF-Pink” is the largest graded pink diamond according to the Gemological Institute of America.

Price: 83 mill

Qing Dynasty Vase

Third on our list is a Qing Dynasty Vase. This vase is thought to have been created in the year 1740, and sold for an amazing 80.2 million in the United Kingdom in 2010. These vases from the Qing Dynasty are continually selling for upwards of 19 million dollars, and have very detailed craftsmanship that sets them apart from other works done under other Chinese Dynasties. The Qing Dynasty was the last imperial dynasty of China. This dynasty began in 1636, and ruled mainland China from 1644 to 1912. After 1912, China became known as The People’s Republic of China and imperialism became a thing of the past. Ancient pottery like this is a coveted collector’s item

Price: 80.2 mill

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester

Fourth on our list is another creation of the great Leonardo Da Vinci. It is his Codex Leicester, which is a personal journal of his. This is a book written by the famous artist that contains many sketches, diagrams and ideas of this creative genius. Topics include geography and astronomy, and the book has several instances of Da Vinci’s signature, which prove this work is authentic. The name of this book was given after its sale to the Earl of Leicester in 1717. This book was bought by Bill Gates in 1994 for 30.8 million dollars.

Price: 30.8 mill

Badminton Cabinet

Fifth on the list of most expensive items ever sold is a Badminton Cabinet crafted in Florence, Italy by 30 skilled craftsmen. This piece took over six years to be finished, and great attention to detail went into making it. This piece was sold to the prince of Liechtenstein and is now placed in the Liechtenstein Museum to be viewed by visitors to the museum. This particular cabinet is valued at around 28.8 million dollars. The Oltrarno section of Florence, Italy is home to some of the most skilled artisans in all the world, and their work is highly revered.

Value: 28.8 mill


Coming in sixth on the list is Olyphant. This ornately carved medieval hunter’s ox-horn was used to sound one or two notes when the air is passed through the column by the lungs of the hunter. This horn was also known as a battle horn because it was used for both fighting and sounding out the notes. This piece dates to the 11th century and is estimated to be worth over 16 million dollars. One of these such horns was said to belong to the Frankish knight Roland known from his role in The Song of Roland. There are legends that perhaps this horn is made from a hunted unicorn, and thus has magical properties.

Value: 16 mill


Next on our list, and coming in at number 7 is a white porcelain moonflask with pink and blue enamel. This original work makes a matching pair with one currently on display in Tokyo’s Matsuoko Art Museum. This moonflask was sold most recently to a private buyer at an auction in Hong Kong for upwards of 15 million dollars.

Price: 15 mill

Ming Dynasty Gold Tripod Vessel

Making eighth place on our list is a Ming Dynasty Gold Tripod Vessel. The Ming Dynasty ruled China from 1368 to 1644. Zhu Yuanzhang’s armies defeated the forces of the Yuan Dynasty and began its rule in 1368. It has three ornate legs and is made entirely of gold with two dragon designs on both sides of the under part of the vessel. It sold at auction in 2008 for more than 14 million dollars.

Price: 14 mill

Eugénie de Montijo Tiara

Next on the list, making it in at number 9 is an emerald and diamond tiara that once belonged to Eugénie de Montijo, the wife of Emperor Napolean III. The piece is inlaid with emeralds and diamonds and was sold at auction in May of 2011 for just over 12 million dollars.

Price: 12 mill

Goddard and Townsend Desk

Last on our list is antique secretary desk that was formerly owned by the Goddard and Townsend families. This desk, which is over 10 feet tall at its precipice, sold at Christie’s in New York to a private buyer for 11.4 million dollars in 1989. This desk dates back to the 18th century.

Price: 11.4 mill