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The Roman bronzes sold at Hansons and now heading for the Yorkshire Museum.

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The collection of four 1800-year-old bronze objects were found by James Spark and Mark Didlick in a field near Ampleforth in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, in May 2020.

They were consigned to auction at Hansons on May 20, 2021 and sold for a hammer price of £185,000 (plus 30% buyer’s premium including VAT) (as reported in ATG No 2494).

The buyer was London antiquities dealership David Aaron.

Following the purchase, an agreement was eventually reached to sell the collection to the Yorkshire Museum in York.

The sale was funded with a donation from US donor Richard Beleson alongside support from the Art Fund and a number of individual donors.

David Aaron did not disclose the price but the gallery chose to sell to the museum for a discounted amount to ensure they would remain on public view.

Salomon Aaron from the gallery added: “We are very proud to have handled The Ryedale Roman Bronzes and are delighted that they will be on permanent public display.”

Bele son, from San Francisco, supported the museum previously in the purchase of the Wold Newton Hoard.

He said: “I first read about the upcoming Hansons auction of the Ryedale Roman Hoard on Facebook, and the minute I saw the bronze bust of Marcus Aurelius, I knew there was only one place in the world it belonged – the Yorkshire Museum. I am really looking forward to visiting York and seeing it on display.”

Beleson has been interested in Roman Britain since his childhood and has visited York a number of times including in 2019 when he attended the Eboracum Roman Festival, run by Graham Harris.

Beleson added: “We would like to make our donation in honour of Graham Harris and the participants of the Eboracum Roman Festival.”

Reyahn King, chief executive of York Museums Trust, said: “On behalf of York Museums Trust I am incredibly grateful to Richard Beleson, Art Fund, the other individual donors and David Aaron who have made the purchase of this incredible hoard possible.”

When the hoard was discovered in 2020 it was recorded through the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, meaning the proceeds of the auction were shared between the finders and the landowner.

The group, which includes a bust of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, is believed to have been buried as part of a religious ceremony. The small bust crafted in typical native Romano-British style with the hair and beard flamboyantly curled was originally a head of a sceptre.

It also includes a statuette of the God of War, Mars, a handle of a knife shaped as part of a horse and a plumb bob – a tool for surveying and outlining building projects.

David Aaron displayed the collection at Frieze Masters earlier this month before it heads to Yorkshire.


For more information on the Frieze Masters fair see Dealers’ Diary.