When it comes to creating a distinct interior design for your home, paying extra for furniture constructed with quality materials, expert craftsmanship and stellar style is usually worth the investment. A fine piece of furniture will likely be enjoyed for a lifetime and may even be passed down from generation to generation. But no matter how fat one’s wallet may be, every budget has its limit. Here are six pieces of glamorous furniture that most people will never be able to afford, but that may just inspire an appreciation of the finer things in life:
1. The Badminton Cabinet
This lovely antique is so named because for over two centuries, it stayed in Badminton, England. Crafted from ebony, the chest is inlaid with precious stones, including lapis lazuli, agate and amethyst quartz. In 1990, Barbara Piasecka Johnson, of the Johnson & Johnson family, bought the Badminton Cabinet for over $16 million. In 2004, she put the piece up for auction at Christie’s. Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein then bought the cabinet for a whopping $36 million, making it the most expensive piece of furniture ever sold at auction. The Prince donated the Badminton Cabinet to Austria’s Liechtenstein Museum.
2. The Dragon’s Chair
It’s not only traditional antique furniture that commands the highest prices, as the best of classic modern furniture can cost a pretty penny as well. The Dragon’s Chair, created by Irish designer Eileen Gray in the early 1900s, is a striking example of early modern design. The chair is crafted in brown leather, with a frame sculpted to resemble the bodies of two intertwined dragons – a bold sight that would look at home in any modern living room design scheme. The wood is lacquered in brown, orange and silver. Fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent owned the Dragon’s Chair before it was sold at a Christie’s auction for nearly $28 million.
3. Louis XVI Commode
Historically, the word “commode” has been used to describe chests of drawers with characteristics that included serpentine lines and elaborate inlaid detailing. Commodes were typically displayed in a prominent place, sometimes accented by a mirror. Eventually they were moved into the bedroom. A pitcher, bowl and towel rack were added, and they were subsequently used as a wash stand, leading to the modern association of commodes with the toilet. The Louis XVI Commode and matching Secretaire were part of the estate of billionaire banker Edmond J. Safra. The pieces feature opulent gilded ormulu mounts on a Japanese lacquer. They were sold at a Sotheby’s auction for nearly $7 million.
4. The Baldacchino Supreme Bed
Sometimes contemporary furniture is priced out-of-reach too. British designer Stuart Hughes recently collaborated with Fratelli Basile Interior Design of Nocera Superiore, Italy to create the world’s most expensive bed. The elaborate canopy bed is draped in Italian silk curtains, with a capitonnè headboard that can be decorated with diamonds at the customer’s request. The bed’s frame is constructed from cherry, chestnut and ash wood, and carved in Medieval turns and ornamentation. The entire frame is bordered with gold leaf. Only two Baldacchino Supreme beds were ever made, and one has already been sold. The price? Over $6 million.
5. John Lennon’s White Upright Piano
Sometimes a piece of furniture is priced high solely for its association with a celebrity. For $1,500, John Lennon bought an upright piano that had been manufactured at Steinway’s factory in Germany in 1970. Lennon composed and recorded many of his most famous songs on the instrument, including the classic “Imagine.” In 2000, an unnamed British collector sold the piano at auction for nearly $3 million to pop star George Michael.
6. Aresline Xten Chair
The Italian design firm of Pininfarina is responsible for designing some of the world’s most high-priced and luxurious automobiles, including Ferraris and Cadillacs. The designers used their expertise to create what many consider to be the most comfortable chair ever created: the Aresline Xten Chair. This luxurious chair uses several propriety materials and technologies, including the Dynamic Synchronized Tilting system that allows the back and the seat to tilt back independently of each other. The cushions are filled with a material called Technogel that self-adjusts to the shape of those who sit in the chair. The Aresline Xten Chair is even crafted from the same aerodynamic material that Olympic athletes use, Dynatec. For a cool $1.5 million, connoisseurs of fine seating can own this glamorous chair for themselves.
Whether antique or contemporary, for collectors, fine furniture is not only viewed as a worthwhile investment, but also as a way to exhibit personal taste, status and style. Thoughtful, modern interior design embraces this sensibility, with creations that reflect and enhance the life style of those who purchase and enjoy them. No matter what one’s decorating budget may be, the best interiors will be decorated in furnishings that make those who inhabit them feel right at home.