Mahakala
This bronze figure of Mahakala was being used as a doorstop in a Gloucestershire cottage. It sold for £85,000 at Mallams’ Chinese art sale in Cheltenham last week.

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The 18th century 10½in (26cm) Sino-Tibetan bronze was brought into one of Mallams’ valuation mornings in September. The firm’s director, Robin Fisher, gave it a £300-500 estimate but, after receiving interest ahead of the auction, he expected it to make at least £6000. Fisher said: “Clearly I had undervalued it. We knew it would do well and we had given it a good show and, of course, it was in our specialist sale.”

He added: “It was brought in by a couple who live in a cottage in Gloucestershire. I think it may have come from her father. They were using it as a doorstop. It was still covered in fly marks and dust. When I called the vendor after the sale she was flabbergasted. She couldn’t believe the price.”

Interest at the October 26 auction started at £1000. After fierce bidding from seven parties, it was knocked down to a Hong Kong buyer on the phone at £85,000, beating the underbidder who was online from China.

The figure, which is on a later pine wood base, represents the Hindu and Sikh deity clutching a Vajra and skull bowl and wearing a crown of severed heads surrounded by a background of flames.

The price helped Mallams’ Chinese art sale take £262,000 excluding buyer’s premium. Its Japanese, Indian & Islamic art sale on the following day made £75,000. The auction followed Mallams’ £1.3m Asian sale in April which was lifted by a celadon-glazed Yongzheng (1722-35) mark and period vase which sold for record £750,000.

Fisher added: “We have chosen to hold our Asian sale ahead of Asian Art in London and it has worked very well.”              

Mallams' has a 20% buyer’s premium.