If you have a valuable cruet pot in your antique cabinet look after it, because one such object became the target of Austria’s most audacious art theft, recounted in Sky Arts’ “The Thieving Don Juan”, on 22nd June.
The episode was the seventh in Sky TV’s second “Art of the Heist” series, which focuses on the world’s most daring and expensive art thefts – both the successes and the failures. The Thieving Don Juan was in the latter group, featuring the theft of the Cellini Saliera (salt cellar) from a Viennese museum in 2003. At the time, it was the biggest art theft in Austria’s history, yet less than three years later the Cellini Salt Cellar was safely back on display, after a series of blunders led to the thief handing himself in. Incongruously, he became a pin-up sensation among the women of Austria. But the real sensation is the salt cellar itself, a Renaissance masterpiece worth around £35m.
Standing around 28cm tall, crafted from part-enamelled solid gold and set on an ebony plinth, the Cellini Salt Cellar is far grander than anything would find in a Ribble Valley antique cabinet, except maybe at Gawthorpe Hall. Depicting the sea god Neptune and the earth goddess Ceres alongside a salt pot and peppercorn temple, it is possibly the most extravagant cruet set ever to grace an antique dining table . The only known gold sculpture by Benvenuto Cellinito in existence, it was made for the King of France around 1543.
You can find ornate cruet sets in antique dealers of towns like Preston, along with antique dining tables on which to display them.
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