In a world of mass-produced, big box furniture, nothing beats the old-world and one-of-a-kind charm of an antique. The rarest and most sought after items also bring in the highest bids at antique auctions. These are some of the most expensive antiques in the world, from watches to battle horns.
1. The Sword of Napoleon: €4,800,000
Despite rarely engaging in hand-to-hand combat, Napoleon insisted on using the most innovative tools for combat. This gold-encrusted sword used by Napoleon in battle in Italy recently sold for the equivalent of $6.5 million. Featuring an Egyptian-inspired curved blade (as per his demands), the sword also features ornate gold carvings fit for an Emperor.
2. Duc D’Orléans Breguet Sympathique: $6,802,500
Long before we required a station to dock our electronic devices, members of the royal families needed a tool for hanging up their pocket-watches at the end of the day. This stunningly ornate Breguet Sympathique was originally created for the Duc D’Orléans’ home in Paris. It features both a built-in clock and also a detachable pocket-watch. It recently sold in a Sotheby’s auction for nearly $7 million USD, making it one of the most expensive antiques in the world.
3. Patek Philippe Supercomplication: 23,237,000 CHF
This stunning timepiece was borne out of fierce competition between two esteemed watch collectors. The 1933 Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication held a world record for over 50 years as being one of the most complicated watches in the world. Today, it holds a record of a different sort. It ranks among the most expensive timepieces ever sold, after selling for $24 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2014.
4. Codex Leicester: $30,800,000
Handwritten in mirror image by Leonardo da Vinci, this codex is one of around 30 of these books produced by the artist and inventor in his lifetime. Historians estimate its date of production to be 1508. Bill Gates purchased it in 1994 for $30.8 million, making it the most expensive illustrated manuscript ever bought.
5. Badminton Cabinet: $36,000,000
This record-breaking badminton cabinet has passed through some of the wealthiest hands in the world. It recently beat itself by breaking its second record when it sold for $36 million at a Christie’s auction. The cabinet stands 12 feet tall and took 30 experts a painstaking six entire years to make. Its complexity comes from the incorporation of an ancient South Asian inlay technique, where intricately placed stones are used to create images.
6. Qing Dynasty Vase: £53,100,000
No list of the most expensive antiques in the world would be complete without this entry! This Qing Dynasty vase was originally thought to be a copy—but after a revaluation, it was given an estimated worth of $1 million. After a frenzied bidding war, it became the most expensive Chinese antique ever sold, at £53.1 million (about $70 million).
While everyone can appreciate the taste of a newly renovated interior complete with state-of-the-art fixtures, it takes a slightly more skilled eye to hone in on valuable antiques. And while ancient pieces certainly are not for everyone, even the most modern of tastes can agree that the stories left behind by these treasures are definitely one-of-a-kind. So, which of these most expensive antiques in the world would you desire for your collection?