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Prior to becoming a specialist in Asian Art I began my career working with fine furniture and works of art. The most exciting discovery of my career has to be the incredible story of the Bonnie Prince Charlie chair. It was during my time at Sotheby’s when I was asked to look at a chair which a client had carefully transported to us in the back of his car. He excitedly revealed on the underside of a 17th Century oak chair a tea-stained paper label, which was attached to the seat which read that Bonnie Prince Charlie decided to visit an inn in Forres on the way to Culloden but the innkeeper felt that none of his chairs were suitable for the Prince to sit on. In desperation, he borrowed a chair from Darnaway Castle but it was never returned. The letter recorded that the innkeeper’s descendants sent it to Mr Douglas’s auction in 1895.
Its whereabouts were unknown following the 1895 auction until it turned up in a South coast provincial sale room where they had missed the importance of the chair. I have to be honest that both I and my colleagues at the time were a little sceptical, as no records or documents existed… Or so we thought. The chair was entered into sale and the provenance was described with the caveat ‘by repute’. Imagine our surprise and delight when Lord Doune, buying on behalf of this father the Earl of Moray, was the successful bidder allowing the chair to return to its rightful resting place in Scotland. He commented after the event: “We are thrilled that the chair is returning to Scotland. We will be more careful before we lend things in the future if it takes 253 ½ years to get them back!” His research on the piece unearthed that the chair had indeed been borrowed from Darnaway Castle in the middle of March 1746, one month before the fateful Battle of Culloden, in which Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army was routed.
Lee Young is the Head of our Asian Art department. He specialises in Chinese and Japanese art, ceramics, paintings, works of art and jade.
Lee started as a porter working for Messenger May & Baverstock in Surrey. And after two years moved on to Phillip's auctioneers in Guildford as Saleroom Manager and spent 5 years as part of the team who set up Phillip's Fine Sales in Fine Places. Lee was then promoted to Branch Manager of Phillip's Ringwood saleroom, becoming Phillip's youngest ever Branch Manager.
After a year Lee went in search of a new challenge with Sotheby's in Billingshurst, working as a Senior Cataloguer. After four years he was promoted to Sotheby's new saleroom at Olympia where he worked for a further year.
In 2002 Lee joined Lyon & Turnbull's sister company, Freeman's of Philadelphia, as a Vice President before moving back to the UK in 2007 to join Lyon & Turnbull. Initially as head of our Fine Antique's department, Lee then became Head of our Asian Art department, where he has made several exciting discoveries including most recently a Qianlong marked Blue & White 'Dragon' charger which sold for £427,250, breaking the record for the highest price ever achieved for Chinese ceramic sold in Scotland. As part of the recent management revival Lee was accepted the role of Lyon & Turnbull's first International Director.
A regular on the BBC Antiques Roadshow and a collaborator on the Miller's Antiques Guides, a member of the Oriental Ceramics Society, and under Lee’s governance Lyon & Turnbull is the most recent auction house to be invited to join Asian Art in London.