'TV stand' sells for £6.3 million



A wooden Japanese box that was bought for £100 in the 1970s (roughly £1,300 today) and used as a TV stand and drinks cabinet for 40 years, has fetched an incredible £6.3 million at auction. The enormous figure even came as a shock to the auction house, which had put an estimate of £200,000 on the box.

So why did it make so much money?

The 5ft long box was unearthed after the owner died and the contents of his home were being cleared out. At that point it emerged that it was a rare Japanese chest - made for the marriage trousseau of Princess Chiyohime - dating from the 1640s. Only ten of the 75 original chests remain, and a smaller version is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The experts followed the history of the chest, which was bought in Amsterdam by Cardinal Jules Mazarin in 1658 from the Dutch East India company. After his death it passed through a number of famous hands, and after the Revolution it came to the UK, where its owners included the poet Thomas Beckford, and the Duke of Hamilton. It was bought in 1916 by Sir Clifford Cory, but then disappeared from view - along with three others. It was so rare that London's Victoria and Albert Museum had been searching for it ever since.

The now emerges that the box was eventually bought in a private sale in London in the 1970s, and went overseas to France when the owner moved out there.

It was sold in France and bought by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The auctioneer, Aymeric Rouillac, said that it had outbid a 'major American museum'. He added: "The Rijksmuseum had the intelligence to gather the greatest patrons of their country" to raise funds for the purchase. He added that the French museums had not managed a similar feat.

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