Oak group of the Magi attributed to Henrik Douvermann sold at Sotheby’s Bond Street for £380,000 on February 24.

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So attached was Mayfair dealer Herman Baer to this sublime three-figure oak group of the Magi dating to c.1520, that he refused to be parted with it during his lifetime.

Purchased by Baer in the 1920s in Berlin, the group was kept permanently on display in his Mount Street shop window.

However, he stipulated in his will that it should be sold to his old client and friend John Adler who bought it from the estate in 1978.

"One of my key mentors was Herman Baer," explained Mr Adler. "I lived near his shop, and he and I would breakfast in Curzon Street before visiting Sotheby's to view their sales. Such close friendships made it an interesting life - the people are the thing that made collecting so pleasurable."

Attributed to Henrik Douvermann, one of a number of sculptors working in the Duchy of Guelders on the Lower Rhine in the eastern Netherlands, the group comprised the elderly bearded figure of Melchior clad in a robe deeply carved in the round; Balthazar wearing a slashed hat, doublet and trunk hose with an uncarved back marked with an incised cross; and curly locked Caspar with a double-brimmed hat, forked beard and sword, also with an uncarved back. Melchior was the tallest figure at 2ft 9 1/4in (85cm) with Caspar the smallest at 2ft 6in (81cm) high.

Although the kings would originally have formed part of an Adoration group, it is still unusual to find three such exquisitely worked survivals in excellent condition. The Magi's enormous decorative allure as well as collectable appeal, condition and provenance attracted widespread European and UK private interest. Estimated at £100,000-150,000, the group made £380,000, selling on the telephone to a collector.