The Borghese-Windsor Cabinet – the most important Roman cabinet ever to have come onto the market – sold for 2,499,000 euro at Sotheby’s in Paris last night. It was bought by the J. Paul Getty Museum in what was a world auction record price for a piece of Roman furniture. Made in Rome circa 1620, this exceptional gilt-bronze mounted silver, ebony and hard stone cabinet boasts exceptional provenance. It belonged to Pope Paul V Borghese (1605-1621), before being acquired in 1824 by King George IV who displayed it in Windsor Castle. The cabinet remained in the Royal Collection until 1959, when it was bought by Aladar de Balkany, on the advice of his son who was passionate about architecture.
International collectors were out in force to testify the extraordinary eye and taste of the great French collector Robert de Balkany (1931-2015). In the first of three sales at Sotheby’s in Paris, collectors, art dealers and institutions from across the globe (including the US, Europe, Russia, Asia and the Middle East) registered their intention to bid on masterpieces of Decorative Arts and Old Masters paintings from Robert de Balkany’s Paris residence, the Hôtel de Feuquières in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The sale had been preceded by an exhibition which attracted over 3,000 visitors. Among the top ten lots sold was night was George Stubbs portrait of Viscount Gormanston’s White Dog, which made 459,000.
Mario Tavella, Président-Directeur Général, Sotheby’s France and Chairman, Sotheby’s Europe said: “The two top lots of this evening – the Borghese-Windsor Cabinet and Charles Clay’s organ clock – are testament to Robert de Balkany’s eye and passion for hardstone furniture and exceptional timepieces – the most important categories of his collection. Both of these exceptional pieces went to major art institutions the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement, Utrecht and for me, this is the best tribute to my friend Robert. It was an honour to have been entrusted with the sale of the masterpieces in his collection which he jealously kept in Paris. ”
(See post on antiquesandartireland.com for November 12, 2010)