The vendor had brought the piece to an Antiques Roadshow appraisal event in St Louis, where she said she had purchased the work at a garage sale around 20 years before for around $75-100. Sotheby’s said that the item was acquired from the estate of Trezevant Branam Winfrey (1912-1999) in Kirkwood, Missouri, in 1999.
It measured just over 6in (16.5cm) tall and was offered with an estimate of $60,000-80,000 at Sotheby’s auction of Important Chinese Art, part of Asia Week New York and was sold after a seven-minute bidding battle for the premium inclusive figure of $2.1m.
The late Tang Dynasty (618-907)/Five Dynasties (907-960) bronze depicts the Buddhist deity Cintamanicakra Avalokiteshvara or Guanyin. She holds her six arms in typical attitude with the wish-granting jewel (cintamani) in front of the chest and in its others the dharma wheel (chakra), the stem of a lotus, and a mala.
Guanyin or is among the best-known of the Buddhist deities in China, varying in form over time as different sutras were introduced. Cintamanicakra is often depicted in the present attitude. A related bronze figure is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.