King George IV's cabinet set for $3 million auction at Sotheby's
A remarkable 17th century cabinet owned by both a Pope and King George IV will be offered for sale at Sotheby's next month.
The museum-quality cabinet is expected to sell for close to $3 million when it comes up for sale in Paris on September 20.
Built in Rome circa 1620, the spectacular gilt-bronze and silver mounted pietre dure ebony cabinet is inlaid with colourful and naturally patterned hard stones.
The cabinet, which measures almost two metres tall, was originally designed to store treasures such as precious stones, shells and coins, and according to experts still features several secret compartments which are yet to be opened.
It was originally owned by Pope Paul V Borghese, who served from 1605 until his death in 1621, and is best remembered as the Pope who persecuted Galileo Galilei for publically suggesting the Earth revolved around the Sun.
The cabinet remained in the Italian noble Borghese family until the 19th century, when it was acquired by George IV, and placed on display in the Great Hall of Windsor Castle in 1827.
In 1840 it was moved to Buckingham Palace, and there it remained for almost 120 years until 1959 – when Queen Elizabeth II decided to have a clear out, and consigned numerous items to auction through Christie's.
It was snapped up by the father of its final owner, Hungarian-born French tycoon Robert Zellinger de Balkany, and has spent the past six decades in the family's Paris town house, the magnificent Hôtel de Feuquières.
De Balkany was a championship-winning polo player and renowned collector, who spent 50 years acquiring everything from Old Master paintings and objects of vertu to exceptional timepieces and rare books.
Following de Balkany's passing in 2015, the contents of the magnificent house will now be offered at Sotheby's in Paris, where the entire collection is expected to achieve in excess of €15 million ($16.7 million).