Published: June 12, 2007
In a hushed and standing-room-only salesroom at Sotheby’s on June 7, auction history was made when an exquisite bronze figure of “Artemis and the Stag,” circa First Century BC/First Century AD, sold for $28.6 million, immediately becoming the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction. That outstanding price also eclipsed the previous record for an antiquity at auction and quadrupled the presale high estimate of $7 million.
When auctioneer Hugh Hildesley opened the bidding at $4.1 million, two bidders immediately began battling for the masterpiece. It appeared that the sculpture was going to sell for just over $12 million when a new bidder, seated in the rear of the salesroom, entered the contest. The bidding continued for a total of more than ten minutes, in $100,000 increments, before the masterpiece was sold to Giuseppe Eskenazi, the premiere connoisseur of Chinese art, who was bidding on behalf of a private European collector.
The rare bronze, which had been consigned by the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., was included in a sale of antiquities that brought a total of $47,194,020 ($8.3/12.1 million), the highest total ever for an antiquities sale.
A complete report of the sale will appear in a future issue.
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