'Louis mistress' desk sells for £3m
A desk believed to have once been owned by the mistress of King Louis XV of France has sold for more than £3 million at auction, setting a record for a piece by the French furniture maker who created it.
The desk was the highlight of an auction at Christie's in London, Masterpieces Formerly in The Collection of Monsieur and Madame Riahi.
Djahanguir Riahi, a French-Iranian, spent more than 50 years amassing a world class collection of 18th century furniture and works of art. On Thursday night pieces from his collection sold for almost £20 million, including six works that fetched more than £1 million.
The desk, an ormolu-mounted Japanese lacquer secretaire-a-abattant, dates from about 1755 and is thought to have been in the renowned collection of Madame de Pompadour, the royal mistress to King Louis XV of France.
The piece, made by Bernard II van Risen Burgh, was in the collection of the Dukes of Richmond at Goodwood House, Sussex between 1765 and 1993. Its sale price - £3,177,250 - was a world record for a piece by van Risen Burgh.
Other lots in the auction included a rare Louis XV ormolu-mounted amaranth and burr-walnut, maple and bois satine commode en bibliotheque, by Jean-Henri Riesener, which fetched £2,505,250, a bureau plat by Joseph Baumhauer, which sold for £1,721,250, and a suite of 28 Louis XV silver candlesticks, amassed pair by pair over 50 years by Riahi, which made £1,049,250.
Sales of the Riahi collection have now made more than £47 million.
Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie's in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and India, and auctioneer for the sale, said: "Christie's has always believed that decorative arts are the DNA of the art market. Once again we have convened both new and established clients with exceptional works of art which will now go on to inspire the next generation of collectors."
Charles Cator, chairman of the furniture and decorative arts department of Christie's International, said: "The response to this collection further highlights exciting developments in the vibrant market for European decorative arts which, since Christie's introduction of The Exceptional Sale format in 2008, has continued to attract a new global following."
He added: "The Riahi collection will always hold a legendary position among the greatest collections of French furniture sold by Christie's, including the Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Ojjeh, Rothschild, Wildenstein and Champalimaud collections."