‘They Are the Greatest Family of Non-Royal Collectors Ever’: See 7 Highlights From the Prestigious Rothschild Family Sale at Christie’s

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A writing desk commissioned by Marie Antoinette and a painting by Fragonard are among the lots on offer.

Léonard Limosin, a set of ten parcel-gilt polychrome square enamel plaques of apostles, circa 1550.
Léonard Limosin, a set of ten parcel-gilt polychrome square enamel plaques of apostles, circa 1550. Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

Some 50 objects from the prestigious Rothschild family’s collection are going up for auction this July at Christie’s London for an estimated total of about £10 million ($12.9 million).

“The name Rothschild means the best of the best,” said deputy chairman Charles Cator in a statement. “They are the greatest family of non-royal collectors who have ever existed.” Although the auction house is not revealing which Rothschilds are selling off their precious objects, in some ways it doesn’t matter—the name speaks for itself.

The family made its fortune through banking, beginning in the 16th century with Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who made the prescient decision to pass on his wealth through his five sons, each appointed to run part of the family business in cities across Europe. From there, the family’s various branches and their heirs continued to amass wealth and keep it within the bloodline. Even today, the Rothschild name is synonymous with wealth (the original Yiddish lyrics to the Fiddler on the Roof song “If I Were a Rich Man” were actually “If I were a Rothschild”).

Now, you too can live like a Rothschild—if you have a couple extra million lying around—by snatching up some of the gilded items from this selection of paintings, plaques, and furniture, including a desk commissioned by Marie Antoinette herself. Below, a few highlights from the auction.

Pair of Royal Cabinets for King Philip V of Spain
Estimate: $1.9 million–$3.2 million

 Pair of royal Flemish cabinets commissioned in Antwerp circa 1713 for Philip V King of Spain.
Pair of royal Flemish cabinets commissioned in Antwerp circa 1713 for Philip V King of Spain.

David Teniers, The Ham Dinner (1648)
Estimate: $1 million–$1.5 million

David Teniers, <i>The Ham Dinner</i> (1648).
David Teniers, The Ham Dinner (1648). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

Mahogony Writing Table Commissioned by Marie Antoinette
Estimate: $780,000–$1.3 million

Jean-Henri Riesener designed ormolu-mounted mahogany table
Jean-Henri Riesener-designed ormolu-mounted mahogany table à écrire, circa 1780. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

“The Rothschild Apostles”
Estimate: $260,000–$390,000

Detail of "The Rothschild Apostles."
Léonard Limosin, a set of ten parcel-gilt polychrome square enamel plaques of apostles. circa 1550. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

A Louis XVI Ormolu
Estimate: $520,000–$780,000

Louis XVI ormolu, Sèvres porcelain and marquetry guéridon, circa 1782-83 by Martin Carlin.
Louis XVI ormolu, Sèvres porcelain and marquetry guéridon, circa 1782-83 by Martin Carlin. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

Gilt-bronze and Rock Crystal Casket
Estimate: $130,000–$195,000

A venetian rectangular parcel casket, (ca. 1600).
A Venetian rectangular parcel casket, (ca. 1600). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Dans les blés
Estimate: $900,000–$1.3 million

Jean-Honore Fragonard, Dans les bles
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Dans les blés. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

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