NEW YORK, 8 DECEMBER 2007
The Guennol Lioness, one of the last
known masterworks from the dawn of civilization (ancient Sumer) remaining
in private hands, sold for $57,161,000 (including commission) at Sotheby's New York on
Wednesday. This is a record for any sculpture at auction.
Diminutive in size (8.3 cm / 3 ¼ inches high), the Guennol Lioness was
carved approximately 5,000 years ago in Elam in ancient Mesopotamia.
Its creation was contemporaneous with the first known use of the wheel,
the development of cuneiform writing, and the emergence of the first
cities. The sculpture was acquired in 1948 by Alastair Bradley Martin and
his wife Edith Martin, whose Guennol Collection was highly regarded by
scholars and museums for decades. The Guennol Lioness had been on view at
the Brooklyn Museum of Art for nearly 60 years. Before the auction the
statue had been estimated at $14 -18 million. The proceeds of the
auction will benefit a charitable trust formed by the Martin Family.
Lioness, Elam, ca. 3000 - 2800 B.C
Photo courtesy of Sotheby's New
The previous record for an antiquity at auction
was $28,600,000 paid for Artemis and the Stag
on 6 June 2007 at Sothebys New York.
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