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Two blockbusters in New York antiquities sales

07 January 2011Written by ATG Reporter

THE latest antiquities series at the major rooms in New York produced strong selling rates, a slew of high individual prices and two blockbuster results.

Firstly on December 7, in a separately catalogued 38-lot offering of antiquities from the collection of the late Clarence Day at Sotheby's (25/20/12% buyer's premium), a marble portrait bust of Antinous from the reign of Hardian c.130-138 AD eclipsed its $2m-3m estimate to sell to a European collector for $21.2m (£14.13m).

The portrait of the Emperor Hadrian's beloved and deified companion was represented larger than life size at 2ft 9in (84cm) high and in the guise of a Greek hero and included the inscription in Greek: M. Lucius Flaccus (dedicated this) to the hero/god Antinous. Found at ancient Banias in the Golan Heights, the sculpture had a provenance that could be traced back to the late 19th century.

Sotheby's sold all 38 lots which, together with a 71-lot, mixed-owner antiquities auction the next day, totalled $39.8m (£26.53m).

Two days later at Christie's (25/20/12% buyer's premium) a new auction high for a Cycladic figure was established when an 11½in (29cm) statue of a female sold for $15m (£10m).

The price, paid by an anonymous bidder, was three times the $3-5m estimate and single-handedly provided over half the entire $28.5m (£19m) hammer total for the 201-lot auction. Believed to be the only complete work by the so-called Schuster Master, it had survived in near-perfect condition and exhibited the strong Cycladic features that had inspired such artists as Modigliani and Picasso.

Exchange rate: £1=$1.5

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