It might be worth hanging on to your flatpack. At a Swedish auction last week, a 62-year-old Ikea Cavelli armchair – described by the design expert Andreas Siesing as “a holy grail for design enthusiasts” – sold for £12,473. It’s hardly surprising: vintage Ikea furniture is now big business. Below are 10 of the rarest and most expensive Ikea items currently available. In the meantime, look after your Billy bookcase. It might be your retirement fund.
Kromvik queen bed, £4,977
The Kromvik was an Ikea mainstay, sold in conjunction with the Sultan sprung mattress between 1982 and 1994. It was designed by Knut Hagberg who, along with his sister Marianne, created around 1,600 Ikea products. Only this one, though, has a resale value that could give you a nosebleed.
Impala easy chair, £6,210
Designed in the 70s by Gillis Lundgren, the fourth original Ikea employee and inventor of the Billy, this easy chair is made with tubular steel and upholstered in vibrant red. At the time of its debut, Ikea’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, was convinced that the Impala was too impractical to sell well. He was wrong. And now, if you are richer than God, you can discover why.
Johann Bertil Häggström living-room set, £3,691
It is exceedingly difficult to track down a model name for this set, although they were ubiquitous in the 70s. As strange as this may sound, this set is a snip: previously, the sofa alone has sold for around £4,000.
Skye chaise longue, £3,300
Designed in the 70s by Tord Björklund, creator of the still-inescapable Karlanda sofa range, the Skye chaise longue is breathtakingly elegant. Fashioned in chrome and leather, it would look good anywhere: in a bachelor pad, in a hipster Airbnb rental, in a New Yorker cartoon about therapists from the 1980s.
Åke easy chair, £2,459
Although a lot of the hottest vintage Ikea pieces date from the 70s, the Åke is relatively ancient. Sometimes known as “Muslingestol”, this clam chair first entered shops in 1952, and is vanishingly rare. Part of this might be down to its unusual legs, which, at least these days, look barely able to survive a heavy flop.
Bore lounge chair with footstool, £3,269
Visit a branch of Ikea today and you will still see Pöang lounge chairs for sale. The Bore is a massively upmarket precursor. Designed by Noboru Nakamura, this is a chocolate brown, button-back leather chair and matching stool that, on its release, could have been yours for £80. But you missed the boat then, so now you have to shell out thousands.
Grace-61 armchair, £1,483
As the name suggests, this chair is 60 years old. There is a chance that if you had Swedish grandparents, they had one, perhaps swayed by the catalogue’s description of it as “the centre of homeliness”. If they did, they paid £16 for it. The price is now 92 times that, which seems excessive.
Ladoga sideboard, £2,118
The truth is that a lot of these expensive old Ikea items are priced as they are because of novelty. They’re gorgeous, but clearly of an age. The same cannot be said for the Ladoga sideboard, designed in the 60s by Erik Wørts. It’s a startlingly beautiful contemporary piece. If you were to open the back pages of a Saturday supplement, you’d find dozens of very similar items selling for just as much.
Vilbert chairs, £863
It’s easy to see why the Vilbert is now so expensive. It was created by Verner Panton, one of Denmark’s most famous designers. Only 4,000 of them were made, which makes them astonishingly rare. And also, it looks as if it would snap in half as soon as you got your bum anywhere near it, so there can’t be many left.
Diana safari canvas chair, £400
Compared with the other items, the Diana chair is an absolute bargain. Designed in 1972 by Karin Mobring, and based on a chair from the 1930s, it was an immediate success and sold well for 11 years before being discontinued. But it seems to be curiously undervalued. You can buy a set of four for £100 each, but they can go for twice that. Maybe this one really is your retirement fund.