The Rijksmuseum has bought a Japanese chest from Rouillac, the French auctioneer, that is one of the most expensive works of Japanese art ever sold. The 17th Century chest was missing for 70 years and had been searched for by museums like the Victoria and Albert:
Amazingly, the chest – one of only 10 in the world – sat undetected at a house in South Kensington, less than a mile from the museum, until 1986 when its owner moved.
It has now been snapped up at auction by Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum for a whopping £6.3million – far higher than the estimate of £200,000.
The late owner’s children, now aged in their 50s, were made overnight millionaires following the sale of the Japanese chest.
Like their father, they had no clue as to the value of the chest, which they used to call ‘daddy’s bar’ because he used it as his drinks’ cabinet.
Auctioneer Aymeric Rouillac based in Tours, France, said: ‘When their father died, the family invited us to round to value the contents of his small house in the Loire Valley.
‘The only thing of worth seemed to be a Flemmish clock – it was nice but only worth a few thousand pounds.
‘While my father Philippe, who is also an auctioneer, was offered a sherry, the daughter went over to what appeared to be a big box in the corner of the room with a TV on it and a throw covering it.
‘After lifting the TV off the box, she removed the throw and opened up the box which was full of bottles of alcohol.
‘He couldn’t believe what we he was seeing – a beautiful gold lacquered Japanese chest.
‘He asked the daughter what it was, and she replied “it is daddy’s bar”.