A marble bust depicting Emperor Didius Julianus – $4m (£3.1m) at Christie’s New York.

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The Roman bust had been in a long-standing collection in Beverley Hills since 1954 and led Christie’s sale of antiquities during ‘Classic Week’ in New York on April 29. The catalogue note described it as “the most complete and best-preserved bust” to have been identified as Julianus.

Estimated at $1.2m-1.8m, it drew multiple bids before it was knocked down to an anonymous buyer at $4m (£3.1m). Hannah Solomon, Christie’s head of sale, said “its rarity, impeccable provenance and suburb condition resonated strongly with a wide range of clients”.

Just two other busts are known of Julianus, one at the Palazzo Braschi in Rome and the other in the Vatican. All three depict him as a mature man wearing similar military garb, although it is unknown whether they were made while Julianus was serving as emperor or before.