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Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques

By Edited Sep 23, 2016 3 9

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques - Rare Antiques and Items

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques

Have you ever been to an antiques shop and wondered why it's all so valuable? Well some people truly buy in to the idea of antiques being priceless, and some truly astonishingly huge sums have been paid for some of the most valuable antiques. Usually for an item to be considered priceless there can be no other piece quite like it, or it has to have phenomenal origins. People purchase these items because they are testaments to our history and the past. 

This article will outline ten of the most expensive antiques ever sold at auction or by private sale. The prices may shock you, but don't judge the buyers to heavily. After all, it's difficult to place a monetary value on some things, especially when we look at some of the names involved here. This list of the most valuable antiques is not conclusive, nor is it likely to stand the test of time as well as the pieces listed: people are always buying rare antiques, and price records are continually being broken. 

Let's get started and look at 10 of the most valuable antiques!

Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Leicester - Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: da Vinci Codex Leicester

It's incredibly difficult to put a monetary value on the works of Leonardo da Vinci, but someone did. His Codex Leicester was one of the most expensive antiques ever sold at auction, and for good reason. Named after the Earl of Leicester, who purchased the document in 1717, the Codex is a scientific document, and perhaps da Vinci's most famous. It documents the theories, musings and sketches of da Vinci on many topics, including geography, astronomy and the elements, all written in da Vinci's signature mirrored writing. 

It was one of the most expensive antiques ever before it went up for auction, and it was officially one of the most valuable antiques after one of the world's richest men purchased it. Bill Gates bought the manuscript at auction for $30,802,500. It now travels to a new city every year, and Gates had it digitally scanned and made available on CD. 

Badminton Cabinet - Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: Badminton Cabinet

This particular piece, known as the Badminton Cabinet, was sold to the Prince of Liechtenstein recently, to be placed in the Museum of Liechtenstein in Vienna. Produced for Badminton House in Gloucestershire, this rare antique was produced in Florence between 1695 and 1732. It is one of the most expensive antiques for good reason, being inlaid with ebony, amethyst and lapis lazuli. 

The final price: £ 19,045,250. That equates at the time of purchase in 2004 to roughly $32 million. This definitely makes it one of the most expensive antiques, and it was a record at the time for Christie's of London.

'Del Gesù' Violin - Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: Giuseppe Guarneri

Next in our list of the most expensive antiques is this violin, one of the very few remaining del Gesù violins in existence. Giuseppe Guarneri, otherwise known as del Gesù, was a violin maker who was considered the rival to the famous Stradivari. Many consider his instruments to be even better and more beautiful to listen to than his aforementioned rival. Certainly Russian lawyer Maxim Victorov thought so. 

He paid $3.9 million for this instrument, making it the most expensive antique violin ever sold. He had Israeli virtuoso violinist Pinchas Zukerman play a private show for a few of the Russian social elite. Definitely one of the most valuable antiques, and definitely appreciated by the owner!

Pinner Qing Dynasty Vase - Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: Pinner Qing Vase

The Pinner Qing Dynasty Vase is one of the most expensive antiques in the world - and it was once thought to be a near worthless reproduction! Produced somewhere around 1740, this is a classic and beautifully designed piece of Qing Dynasty artwork. 

It is unknown how it got to Great Britain, but it was initially assessed a value of £800. This was reassessed to £800,000 after it was discovered to be authentic. However, the bidding at the time of auction shocked the auctioneers: it finally sold for £53.1 million. This was a new record for Chinese artifacts, and broke the previous record for a piece of pottery by £20 million. An amazing piece, and one of the world's most expensive antiques.

Germain Soup Tureen - Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: Germain Soup Tureen

This soup tureen by Thomas Germain is one of the finest pieces of silver craftsmanship to escape the French Revolution period intact. Most other valuable metal was melted down or disappeared. He was prized as a silversmith, and this particular piece was made for King Louis XV. 

This is one of the most expensive antiques because of its rarity and amazing design. At a recent auction, this piece sold to a private bidder for $10,287,500. Either the buyer really likes their soup, or they're mad about owning the most expensive antique dinnerware around! 

Harrington Commode: Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: Harrington Commode

The Harrington Commode is not only an incredibly beautiful piece of antique British furniture, it was built by one of the most famous names in the business, Thomas Chippendale. Thought to have been built around 1770, this piece is inlaid with floral designs and features brass accents. Being in such great condition, this was clearly one of the most expensive antiques in Britain's history, and it sold at Sotheby's for just shy of £3.8 million, more than four times the estimated value. Truly one of the most valuable antiques of British origin. 

Tufft Rococo Table - Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: Tufft Rococo Table

The Tufft Rococo table is an example of the Rococo style of furniture. It was created in 1775-1776 by Thomas Tufft for a rich landowner living in New Jersey. A classic style that is exquisitely hand carved, this table remains the most expensive example of its kind ever sold at auction. Selling for $4.6 million at auction at Christie's of Philidelphia, this is definitely one of the most expensive antiques, and probably the most expensive table. 

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: "Dragon's" Chair

This exquisite and unique chair, created by designer Eileen Gray in between 1917 and 1919, is an example of one of the most expensive antiques, and it's not quite 100 years old yet! This chair was part of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent, and was expected to bring in $3 - 4 million at the most. Apparently the art dealer who purchased it felt it had a bit more value than that. This piece ended up becoming one of the most expensive antiques ever, selling for $28.3 million. That's a bit more than the average La-Z-Boy!

Honus Wagner Card - Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: Honus Wagner T206

Believe it or not, one of the most expensive antiques in the world happens to be a baseball card! The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is one of the rarest in the world, and the price reflects that. It's super valuable because Honus Wagner was one of the best players of his era, and he refused (for unknown reasons) to allow his image to be printed past the first 60 - 200 cards produced. Not only are these some of the most valuable antiques, they're exciting because there may still be others out there. The latest price for an Honus Wagner card? $2.8 million, to Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendricks. 

Napoleon's Sword - Most Expensive Antiques

Top 10 Most Expensive Antiques: Napoleon's Sword

This is my favorite of the most expensive antiques list: Napoleon's sword. This sword was actually used by Napoleon in his Egyptian campaign, and was based on his observation that the curved swords his Arab enemies used were better suited to beheading enemies. After the campaign he presented it to his brother as a wedding gift. The sword was sold at auction for $6.4 million, but only on the condition that it was sold to a French resident, and it must spend 6 months a year in France, since it's a national treasure. 



Oct 8, 2011 1:35am
wow, that Harrington Commode is one expensive toilet! Nice article.
Oct 8, 2011 3:36pm
Haha, not THAT kind of commode!! This one is a chest of drawers actually, but I believe it was intended to live in the powder room. Thanks for the comment Ernie!
Oct 8, 2011 12:07pm
This is a very informative article and the photos add interesting element to it. Thanks!
Oct 8, 2011 3:37pm
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!
Nov 1, 2011 7:24pm
What's crazy about that Honus Wagner baseball card is how much it eclipses any other antiquated baseball card in sale price. From what I understand, no other card has really come close. Great article.
Nov 11, 2011 2:53pm
Great article! The table surprises me the most. But, my favorite is Napoleon's sword.
Nov 16, 2011 12:20am
It am feeling greedy but I do not know if I can buy any of these things in this life :)
Nov 23, 2011 11:19pm
I love antiques so I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article. So Da Vinci's Codex was bought by Bill Gates, interesting.
Dec 10, 2011 4:40am
The Napolean's Sword is awesome,Wish I could hold it for a moment!!!!
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