At Book Riot, we’re always looking for more bookshelves: because you can never have too many books, just a lack of space to put them. Bookshelves can be expensive, so we’ve hunted down 10 Cheap Bookshelves (That Are Actually Pretty Nice). Sometimes, though, while searching for fun and interesting bookshelves for every library or aesthetic, we come across the exact opposite: some staggeringly expensive bookshelves.
Sometimes, this is understandable. It’s a breathtaking work of art that double as a bookshelf, one that the creator poured hours into and is made of the highest quality. It may be an antique, one that’s unique in this world. On the other hand, sometimes it looks exactly like another shelf that is a tenth of the price.
While usually I click away from these obscenely expensive shelves, this time I’ve decided to lean into and showcase some of the most expensive bookshelves there are. These are no old reliable Ikea shelves. They start off at a cool $10,000 and only go up from there. So read on for some shelves there’s no way any reasonable person can afford, from the most drool-worthy, enviable designs to the most questionable ways to drop a lot of cash.
These are rounded to the nearest $1,000 USD, because what’s $500 give or take when you’re dropping a down payment’s worth of money on a shelf?
The Most Expensive Bookcases In the World
Can You Guess the Price Tag?
Let’s start with the winner: the bookcase that is, as far as my research has shown, the most expensive in the world. Before scrolling past the image, please place your bets on what it sold for.
These are gold lacquer bookcases from the Wanli period (1572–1620 in China). Check out the full size image to see the intricate dragon carvings. It’s covered in a golden lacquer with gold leaf on top. It sold at (not just was priced at — it was purchased at this price) $1,522,000. Now I know what you’re thinking, but I didn’t mention that is a set of two, so that makes it much more reasonable.
If Money Was No Object
These are bookcases that are way out of my budget, but are absolutely gorgeous. I am coveting these, and if they weren’t worth more than everything I own put together, I’d definitely put them in my living room.
Inspired by ivy in his grandmother’s garden, Sebastian Errazuriz’s design is stunning. But $75,000 is just a little out of my price range at the moment.
Continuing in the tree style, this bronze branch bookshelf by Joris Laarman sold for $175,000. (SOLD! Not just priced at!)
I was already stunned by the ornate decorations carved into this bookcase, but it also has a history: it’s from 1850 China. It sold for a modest $13,000.
Whom among us has not wished for a bookcase with a hidden door? This one sold for $16,250.
I’m a simple woman. I see a beautiful old bookcase with carved owls, I want it. If you’ve got a spare $22,000, you can buy it right now!
Unsurprisingly, the kind of bookcases that come up the most when you sort from most expensive to least are antiques. Here are just a few selections.
According to the eBay listing, these are “very important Samuel Pepys 1666 large library bookcases.” Apparently Pepys invented freestanding bookcases? You can read the whole story at the link, and you can buy these two “after original” versions yourself for $69,000.
These bookcases are practically a whole room. It’s an antique walnut pharmacy, complete with shelves in a U formation and a desk — plus a clock! You can take it home right now for $81,000.
This is a mahogany bookcase cabinet by George Washington Jack (1855–1932), valued at $34,000.
This blond briarwood bookcase was made specifically to house the Opera Omnia books — sold separately, of course. You can buy it now for just $240,000.
It Doesn’t Look Expensive
These are shelves that are made of pricy material or are antiques, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at them.
This is a perfectly nice bookshelf divider, but at a glance, I definitely didn’t realize it was bronze. You can buy it right now for $71,000.
I recognize this is a work of art that’s an incredible amount of work: it’s carved from a single piece of marble. But if I’m being honest, I would not immediately recognize it as being worth more than a car. You can buy it right now for $84,000.
These are brass AND marble, so of course it’s $59,000.
When I first saw this, it looked like something I’d see on the side of the road — one of a million slightly rough bookcases. In fact, this is a red lacquered bookcase from the Ming dynasty. It’s valued at $128,463.
Did You Put the Decimal Point in the Wrong Spot?
We’re going into the artsy, design-centric expensive shelves now. These ones are perfectly nice, but I would have guessed they were about a tenth of the price.
This bookcase is called “Reinventing the Wheel.” It’s $21,000.
This is made from steel and beech. It sold for $34,000.
These are visually striking, and I love how it looks like the shelves can be configured in a variety of ways. I just wouldn’t have guessed that it sold for an even $10,000.
This is an organic design reminiscent of cells and star systems. You can buy it now for $48,000. (I mean, I definitely can’t. But maybe you can!)
These are pricy because they’re a piece of art that doubles as a bookcase. Some of these I love, some aren’t quite my style, but I recognize that it’s just a matter of taste.
These colorful shelves would be the centerpiece of any room. Sold for $38,000.
More circles! Sold at $34,000.
Charlotte Perriand is a renowned French architect and designer, and this one sold at $135,000.
Mix and match bronze and circles for a winning expensive bookcase. You can buy it yourself now for $106,000.
Gaetano Pesce’s modular bookcase is made of 57 adjustable polyurethane resin shelves. It sold at $15,000.
Created in the 70s by Gaetano Pesce, this is definitely a unique take on bookshelves. Sold for $35,000.
Look, art is subjective. I don’t have the background to evaluate it. But here are some…more interesting designs.
The columns are made of blocks of black Belgian marble and laminate stacked. You can buy it right now for $29,000.
This bookcase is made of walnut, silk, and glass. It’s very…peppermint. You can buy it now for a modest $160,000.
These shelves are giving me real bowling pins vibes. You can buy it for $45,000.
This is a “rustic continental oak and horn bookcase.” You can buy it now for $53,000.
Invoking a preschool aesthetic and made of fiberboard and cheap plastic laminate, this sold for $18,000.
This is the Big Bull Leather Library. It’s a wooden frame covered in leather. You can buy it now for $18,000.
Ridiculously Overpriced Bookshelves
We may disagree about the worth of the above bookcases, but I think we can agree that the ones below are not worth their price tag.
Wayfair is usually a site people use for extremely cheap furniture, but this one — bafflingly — is $11,000.
Yes, art is subjective. But these are painted aluminum shelves. How did they sell for $72,000??
These shelves on Etsy look like the same ones you could get for $10 at a garage sale, but these are priced at $30,000.
Charlotte Perriand makes another appearance. Again, I realize that she’s a respected designer, but these are some basic wall shelves for the price tags. The top shelves sold for $87,500. The bottom shelves sold for $260,000.
I get that midcentury modern is trendy, but…$62,000??
These all seem like very basic bookshelf designs, but I guess they’re priced by the name of the designer? The top left is valued at $14,000, top right is $11,000, and the bottom bookcase can be bought now for $32,000.
So those are some of the most expensive bookshelves in the world! If you want to browse bookcases on a more reasonable budget, you can check out our other bookshelves posts. (And really, these cheap bookcases are pretty nice.)