Historic desk sets auction record price

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A desk believed to have once been owned by the mistress of King Louis XV of France has sold for more than £3m 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, some pieces sold for almost £20m, including six works that each fetched more than £1m.

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 in Sussex between 1765 and 1993. Its sale price – £3,177,250 – was a world record for a piece by van Risen Burgh.

A spokesman said: “The result pays tribute to Djahanguir Riahi, a passionate connoisseur who assembled this extraordinary collection over 50 years.”