The Badminton Cabinet or Chest is an 18th century piece of furniture commissioned by Henry Somerset, 3rd Duke of Beaufort. It has twice achieved the status of most expensive piece of furniture in the world.
Henry Scudamore, 3rd Duke of Beaufort was born Henry Somerset, the elder son of Henry Somerset, 2nd Duke of Beaufort on 23 March 1707.
He was one of several founding governors of Britain's first institution for abandoned children, the Foundling Hospital.
In 1726, at the age of just 19 he commissioned the cabinet.
The Badminton Cabinet
The cabinet was made in Florence whilst the Medici were still in control, under the eye of Thomas Tyrrel. Tyrrel had been found begging as a boy in Prague by the last Grand Duke Gian Gastone de Medici who took him back to Florence and subsequently ennobled him. Tyrrel played a key role in guiding the construction of the cabinet.
It took six years to make, with 30 craftsmen involved, and is an ebony cabinet over 12 feet tall (3.8 metres) and features scenes rendered in pietre dure—the arrangement of finely cut, polished and coloured stones.
There is a clock face set into the top of the cabinet, marked with fleurs-de-lis.
The Badminton Cabinet has twice achieved the status of most expensive piece of furniture in the world. On July 5 1990 Christie's sold the Badminton Cabinet for $15m, a world record for a piece of furniture at the time.
In 2004, the monumental piece went back under the hammer at Christie’s. In the auction house’s Important European Furniture, Sculpture and Carpets sale on December 9, the director of the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna, acting on behalf of collector Prinz Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, had the winning bid.
The hammer fell on the world's most expensive piece of furniture at £19,045,250 ($36,662,106). It is currently located at the Liechtenstein Museum.