Black marble bust of a Moor – £65,000 at Chiswick Auctions.

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Auctioneer and European sculpture expert Rachael Osborn-Howard had further cause for celebration when a 20in (50cm) grey-veined black marble bust of a Moor after the antique was offered. It came from a private collection where it had been for 25 years.

“I cautiously catalogued it as ‘probably 19th century’ so that bidders could make their own minds up about the age of the carving and the restoration,” she said.

“I realised before the sale that it was going to do well as we had numerous international clients requesting phone bids but I was very surprised it realised as much as it did.” In the belief that the core of the scupture was 16th or 17th century, bidding reached £65,000.

Phone bidder’s siren call

A fine work by Art Deco sculptor Demétre Chiparus (1886-1947) emerged at Surrey auctioneers Ewbank’s (22.5% buyer’s premium) on September 12-14.

The c.1928 cold-painted and patinated bronze and ivory figure illustrated on this page depicted the Antinea, the siren queen of Atlantis. Standing 2ft 2in (67cm) tall on its marble and onyx base, marked Etling Paris, it was in untouched condition.


Antinea bronze and ivory figure by Chiparus – £41,000 at Ewbank’s.

A decade ago examples of this figure sold for over £100,000 but there have been major changes to the market since then – a financial collapse as well as current and pending ivory legislation. Such a figure (under 100 years old and comprising more than 10% ivory) will become illegal to sell under proposed UK law and already cannot be exported to the US.

Auctioneer Andrew Ewbank had this in mind when he estimated the figure at £8000-12,000.

On the day however, there was interest from Europe and South America with ten phone lines booked before Antinea sold over the phone to a UKbased bidder at £41,000.

From the same local source – and in the vendor’s family for 40 years – was a 13in (33cm) version of the well-known figure Torch Dancer signed to the base for Ferdinand Preiss. Both torches had been off and glued and it went to another UK phone bidder at £11,000 (estimate £1000-1500).