April 03, 2015

The World’s Priceless Treasures


 Having a budget to blow on whatever you please is one of the major benefits of being a billionaire, but the world’s priceless treasures underline that not everything has its price. In this Billionaires countdown, we’ll check out 10 of the world’s priceless treasures that money just can’t buy.

British Imperial State Crown, UK

The Imperial State Crown is the crown that was worn by British monarch Elizabeth II at her coronation in 1953 and was made for her father, King George VI in 1937. It is also the crown worn by the Queen at the annual State Opening of Parliament.
The piece is part of the British Crown Jewels and is displayed under high security at the Tower of London. Although relatively modern in creation, a version of the Imperial State Crown – which is a symbol of sovereignty – has been in the Royal Family since the 15th Century. The current crown is a replica of one made for Queen Victoria in 1838, which needed to be replaced because its frame was worn out.
The piece contains some famous jewels: the Cullinan II Diamond, the Stuart Sapphire, St Edward’s Sapphire, the Black Prince’s Ruby and Queen Elizabeth’s Pearls. There are a total of 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and five rubies contained in this priceless crown.



The Shroud of Turin, Italy

A rather controversial, but nonetheless priceless, addition to our list is the world-famous Shroud of Turin – controversial because arguments still rage over whether this was the actual cloth in which the body of Jesus was wrapped after his crucifixion.
The piece of linen appears to show the outline of a man who had been crucified, but scientists have not been able to agree on how the image on the cloth was created. Further mystery is added to the mix because modern radio carbon dating suggests that it was actually made during the Medieval period, not 2,000 years ago.
The Shroud is in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin and has been described as an icon by Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.

The Antikythera Mechanism, Greece

Found by sponge divers off the wreck of a ship believed to have been lying on the Greek seabed for 2,000 years, the Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient computer believed to have been used to track the movements of planets and stars.
The piece, now in the National Museum of Archaeology in Athens, was found in 1901 off the Greek Island of Antikythera. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that the full extent of the mechanism was discovered, including its 30 bronze gears and two faces bearing detailed Ancient Greek inscriptions.
According to professor Michael Edmunds of Cardiff University, this priceless treasure is “more valuable than the Mona Lisa”.(pictured above).

Queen Nefertiti’s Bust, Germany

This beautiful work of art depicting a strikingly attractive woman is believed to have been crafted around 1340BC. Queen Nefertiti – her name means the beautiful one has come – was the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton and this sublime bust is admired the world over.
The piece was found in the workshop of sculptor Thutmose, and is made from limestone painted with layers of stucco. The bust has one remaining eye, made from black quartz, and the face is almost completely symmetrical.
The bust was discovered by German archaeologist Ludwig Bordchardt in 1912 along with a number of unfinished artworks of the beautiful queen. Today, it is on public display in the Berlin Museum.

Tutankhamen’s Death Mask, Egypt

We stay in Ancient Egypt for possibly the best-known artefact to be discovered from this amazing civilisation – the gold death mask of the boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamen.
The solid gold death mask, decorated with inlaid lapis lazuli, gems and glass is now synonymous with the Ancient Egyptians. It was found inside his undisturbed tomb by British Egyptologist Howard Carter in 1922.

The find caused a worldwide sensation and a renewed interest in Ancient Egypt. Even today, people are awed when the artefacts are taken on tour for a global audience to see them. When not being displayed internationally, the death mask can be seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.


Michaelangelo’s David, Italy

This amazing marble statue of a male nude, standing 17-foot tall, took the artist Michaelangelo three years to complete and was unveiled in Florence in 1504. It depicts the Biblical hero David, who as a boy defeated the giant Goliath, and is considered by many to be the perfect male form.
The statue stood in a public square as the embodiment of the city-state’s independence and was only moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence in 1873. Today, a replica statue takes the place of the original outside the Palazzo della Signoria.
A dispute over the ownership of this priceless treasure began in 2010; the Italian government said it owns the statue but the city of Florence continues to maintain it belongs to it.

The Mona Lisa, France

Painted by Leonardo da Vinci in Italy at the same time that Michaelangelo was creating the epic David, the Mona Lisa has to be one of, if not the, most famous paintings in the world.
Believed to show Lisa Gherardini, who was herself from an ancient Florentine family, the portrait is so celebrated because of the subject’s enigmatic smile. It was thought to have been commissioned by her husband and was later acquired by the French King Louis I. After the French Revolution, the French Republic laid claim to the portrait and it has been on display in the Louvre in Paris since 1797.

In 1911 it was stolen by a Louvre employee from Italy, who believed it should be returned there. It was two years before the picture was recovered. It has been attacked with paint and acid over the years and is now protected by bulletproof glass.


The Sutton Hoo Helmet, UK

Discovered in a ship burial site in Suffolk and dating to the Anglo Saxon period of the late 6th or early 7th Century, the Sutton Hoo Helmet was one of the amazing artefacts hidden in the burial mound.

The helmet is believed to have belonged to East Anglian ruler Raedwald and was discovered during an archaeological dig in 1939. The helmet is made from bronze and was made by expert craftsmen. When it was found, it had rusted and broken apart and was painstakingly reconstructed.

The helmet, along with other pieces found at the ritual burial site, is on display at the British Museum in London.


The Elgin Marbles, UK

The ownership of these marble sculptures, which were created during the Greek classical period, is hotly contested. They were originally part of the Parthenon temple and Acropolis of Athens, and were removed at the start of the 19th century by the Earl of Elgin and shipped to England.
Even at the time, the removal of the marbles was controversial; it was debated by the British Parliament and in 1816, the government paid for the statues for the nation. They have been on display in the British Museum ever since.
However, Greece has long claimed ownership and at the time of writing, negotiations over their future are continuing.

Sistine Chapel Ceiling, Italy

The second Michaelangelo entry into this Billionaires countdown of the world’s priceless treasures is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, within the Vatican.
This artistic endeavour took Michaelangelo four years to complete between 1508 and 1512. He constructed his own scaffolding and lay on his back to undertake the huge task. The frescos show scenes from the Old Testament, based mainly on the Book of Genesis.
The work was restored over an almost 20-year period from 1980, removing layers of candle smoke, which has discoloured the frescos over many centuries.
So, whether your passion is art, jewellery or knowledge, there are plenty of priceless treasures located around the world that you can visit – but sadly, even the wealthiest billionaire’s budget couldn’t buy them, because they’re simply not for sale at any price.

By Jackie Hammond

With many thanks to Billionaires Australia

Other posts that feature the art mentioned can be found by searching this blog  - top left, or here.
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Some pictures used above are cited there.

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