A rare Japanese antique chest has been sold at auction for £6.3 million after being used by a French engineer as a drinks cabinet and TV stand. The engineer purchased the wooden chest, which is five feet in length, for £100 when he moved to London. Following his death, his family discovered the chest while clearing out his home in France and found that the chest dated back to 1640 and had been lost since 1941, which was when the chest was last recorded.
The chest has an intriguing history, which has helped to increase the value. It was made by Kaomi Nagashige in 1640 for the Dutch East India Company. In 1658, it was sold to the chief minister of France before being handed down through his family. William Beckford, a British poet, purchased the chest in 1802 and it was passed to his daughter before being sold in 1882. The antique chest was then sold to a collector, Sir Clifford Cory, who died in 1941 – which is when it fell from the radar. A Polish doctor had bought the chest, then sold it on for £100 to the engineer.
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam bought the Japanese chest at auction for the huge sum, although its expected value was £200,000. According to the curator, Menno Fitski, the antique box was the best when it was made and remains the best. He also said that the amazing history added to its uniqueness. If you have an antique chest lying around, a reputable antiques dealer in Lancashire or elsewhere may be able to tell you about its history.
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