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Staff Report

NEW YORK, 8 JUNE 2007 — Auction history was made yesterday when a bronze figure of Artemis and the Stag, circa 1st Century B.C./1st Century A.D., sold for $28,600,000 at Sotheby's New York.

That outstanding price also eclipsed the previous record for an Antiquity at auction and quadrupled the pre-sale 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 10 minutes, in $100,000 increments, before the masterpiece was sold to Giuseppe Eskenazi, the well-known London dealier 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, New York, was included in a sale of Antiquities which brought a total of $47,194,020 (est. $8.3/12.1 million), the highest total ever for an Antiquities sale.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s 

The rare bronze figure of Artemis and the Stag is remarkable for its beauty, size, excellent state of preservation, and most notably, its dramatic capture of the split-second moment when the Greek goddess of the hunt has just let fly her arrow. The elegant sculptural group features Artemis standing on a quadrangular base with a stag to her left. Wearing elaborately laced sandals and short chiton with drapery billowing at the sides, the goddess’ extended left hand would have held a bow that is now missing. The exquisite detail of this work is apparent in her face: silver-overlaid eyes, incised irises, recessed pupils and her ears pierced for earrings.

Other highlights from the afternoon include an Elamite Copper Figure of a Horned Hero, Proto-Literate Period, circa 3000-2800, which commanded $3,176,000 (lot 80, est. $150,000/250,000); a Marble Funerary Portrait Statue of a Roman Poet, Late Republican/Augustan, circa 50 B.C./A.D. 14, which brought $2,056,000 (lot 70, est. $125/175,000); and a Sumerian Alabaster Figure of a Worshipper, Early Dynastic III, circa 2800-2550 B.C., which realized $1,720,000 (lot 81, est. $300/500,000).

*The previous record for sculpture at auction was $27,456,000 for Constantin Brancusi’s Oiseau Dans L’Espace, May 2005.

**The previous record for an Antiquity was $11,652,175 for The Jenkins Venus, June 2002.

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