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    The Badminton Cabinet


    The Badminton Cabinet, which took an estimated 30 Florentine craftsmen at least five years to complete, was commissioned by Henry Somerset, the 3rd Duke of Beaufort, in 1726. In December 2004 it was bought for a record £19 million at Christie’s. More than 14ft high and 7ft wide, the cabinet is made of ebony and gilt bronze and encrusted with pietra dura decorations – polished hardstones such as amethyst, lapiz lazuli and amethyst quartz. It remained in Beaufort family hands at Badminton until 1990 when it was sold to Barbara Piasecka Johnson, heiress to the Johnson and Johnson baby powder fortune, for £8,580,000. That was then a record for a piece of furniture until the same cabinet came up for auction again, making £19,045,250, including buyer’s premium.

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