$1.65 Million Chess Set Recreates Battle of Issus

M.S. Rau Antiques
M.S. Rau Antiques / M.S. Rau Antiques

Whether you’re into fantasy books or videogames, there’s a novelty chess set out there for every type of nerd. This set, currently for sale from M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans, is perfect for history geeks. The price tag? A whopping $1.65 million, Forbes reports.

The item, titled "Battle of Issus" after Alexander the Great’s second battle with the Persian army in 333 BCE, is a board game that doubles as a precious piece of art. Crafted in the late 20th century, each 14-karat gold piece stands in for a character or structure from the battle.

A jewel-encrusted King Darius III and Alexander the Great represent the kings on opposite sides of the board, while the Persian god of war and the Greek goddess of war and wisdom (Athena) assume the roles of their respective queens. When the base of each piece is twisted, a special mechanism is triggered, like the swinging of a sword or the rowing of a ship’s oars.

The board itself is also an example of master craftsmanship. The surface is checkered with pink rhodonite and green malachite, and the base’s perimeter depicts action scenes from the battle. It took a jeweler over 14,000 hours over the course of a decade to craft each detail by hand.

The final product contains nearly 9 pounds of 14-karat gold, 5 pounds of 24-karat gold, 11 pounds of silver, 320 grams of garnets, and accents of pearls, rose quartz, and turquoise. If you don’t have a space in your home worthy of such a game, M.S. Rau Antiques has got you covered: The purchase includes a mahogany table and two 19th-century leather upholstered chairs.

[h/t Forbes]

All images: M.S. Rau Antiques

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