Oak panel bought off eBay is historic Henry VIII piece and ends up re-selling for £185,000

This King Henry VIII period oak panel (Bonhams / SWNS Group)

A King Henry VIII period oak panel bought on eBay for a few thousand pounds has been sold at auction for a staggering £185,000.

This King Henry VIII period oak panel (Bonhams / SWNS Group)
This King Henry VIII period oak panel (Bonhams / SWNS Group)

The “highly important” parcel-gilt, polychrome-decorated and carved oak panel from 1545 is thought to depict King John.

It was discovered during a house clearance in Chichester in 2013 and was put on eBay.

The intricate carvings captured the eye of collector and high-end specialist Paul Fitzsimmons, who immediately bought it and picked it up the next day.

Mr Fitzsimmons described the occasion he saw the advert as “a heart pounding moment” and knew instantly it “was a very exciting find”.

It is believed he paid a “four figure” sum for the panel – which turned out to be an absolute bargain.

He entered it into Bonhams’ Oak and Interior sale in London this week with the auction house giving it a guide price of £20,000 – £30,000.

But there was a staggering bidding war which resulted in the anonymous auction winner paying £184,900.

The piece bears a striking similarity to both a panel in the Victoria and Albert Museum and one in the Museum of London.

(Bonhams / SWNS Group)
(Bonhams / SWNS Group)

Each depicts a regal central figure surrounded by the same foliated scrolls and decoration. It is thought, centuries ago, they were once part of a single series of interior decoration.

Experts at Bonhams believe it is likely the panel shares the same remarkable provenance as one in the Museum of London, which reputedly comes from the London home of William Paulet.

Paulet was a central figure the history of British policy making and one of the few political geniuses who managed to remain in favour at the Tudor court for his entire life.

The civil servant’s career spanned the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, until his death in 1572.

He served as Lord Great Chamberlain and Lord President of the Privy Council, before being appointed Lord High Treasurer of England in 1548.

His ancestral home in Hampshire was reputed to be the largest and most opulent private residence in England.

The panel was later hung at Goodwood House, Sussex., the ancestral home of the Dukes of Richmond before disappearing during World War Two.

Mr Fitzsimmons, a well respected collector, liked the panel so much that prior to selling it he displayed it in his bedroom.

David Houlston, Bonhams senior specialist in Oak Furniture, said: “This was a remarkable piece of craftsmanship with links to some of the most momentous periods in English history.

“I am not surprised it was in such high demand nor that it sold for such an impressive price.”


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