Thieves who broke into a Gloucestershire auction house on the eve of an important sale escaped with £30,000 worth of artefacts – but neglected to take an ivory-inlaid antique desk which later sold for £13,000 against an estimate of £600 – 800.
The smash-and-grab thieves who raided the Dominic Winter auction house on the evening of 6th February knew exactly what they were looking for: a locked cabinet containing consignments of Chinese Imperial jade and Japanese artefacts, plus Edwardian and Victorian silverware. In total, the thieves escaped with 42 lots, including a rare Ming Dynasty dragon finial, estimated to be worth £2,000 – 3,000, and an 18th century archaistic pendant in white jade, worth up to £3,500.
The haul also included a miniature lacquered antique cabinet, which in the Ribble Valley would be worth around £150. However, the thieves totally overlooked another diminutive piece of furniture worth far more: a tiny carved ivory Regency table which sold for £7,200, against an estimate of £300 – £500. The top-selling lot also had an Asian slant; it was a 19th century Anglo-Indian rosewood writing table, inlaid with engraved ivory patterns to the top, front and sides. Carrying a modest estimate of £600 – £800, it quickly realised £13,000.
The auction house is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the thieves or the return of the stolen items. Those who acquired their antique cabinets by more honest means, meanwhile, had to pay a buyers’ premium of almost 20%. Lancashire antique dealers never charge a buyers’ premium.
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