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The roundel was found in the cupboard of an English country house and is a major new Renaissance sculpture discovery from the circle of Mantegna or Antico.

There was a packed room assembled to see it sell at Christie’s in London on December 11. Bidding opened at £900,000 and after a brief but tension-filled pause before the first move – from a telephone manned by Christie’s sculpture specialist Donald Johnston – the bidding swiftly gained momentum, rising to a final quintuple-estimate price of £6.2m (plus premium). Most of the action came via the telephones and was largely from private buyers, including the successful purchaser, whom the auctioneers described as a private buyer who has a home in this country, who was bidding through Christie’s Sumiko Roberts.

But the underbidder, London dealer Deborah Gage, was present in the room and told the Antiques Trade Gazette that she had been acting on behalf of an institution.