Garden sphinxes valued at £300 sold for £195,000 at Suffolk auction
- Credit: Mander Auctioneers
A pair of carved Egyptian sphinx statues have sold at a Suffolk auctioneers for £195,000 — around 500 times the guide price.
The metre-long stone statues were found in a garden near Clare, in south Suffolk and valued at between £300-500 at Mander Auctioneers in Sudbury.
Auctioneer James Mander said: “We were contacted by a local family who were moving house and needed to dispose of many items from their old property, which did not fit their new home.”
But at auction on October 9 the Egyptian artefacts fetched nearly £200,000 and are now expected to end up in a museum.
The statues are a traditional depiction of a sphinx, with a human head on the body of a lion and were intended to symbolise strength.
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However they are described as being in poor condition with heavy wear, and various missing pieces with the former owners even trying to repair them using concrete.
The sphinxes were bought by the current owners at a country house sale in East Anglia about 15 years ago for a few hundred pounds and had stood on a garden patio as decoration until last month, when they were sent to the auction.
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At the time they were believed to be replicas dating from the 18th century, and thought to have been acquired by a member of the aristocracy on a grand tour of the globe.
But bidders believed they were in fact genuine ancient Egyptian craftsmanship.
Mr Mander said: “There was some interest prior to the auction during the viewing, but really we had no indication of their value until the auction began.”
The bidding started at £200 but quickly climbed to £100,000, before finally selling for £195,000 following competition from four telephone bidders and several more bidders on the internet.
The buyer is an international auction gallery.
Mr Mander said: “This was an exciting day at the auction, and we were very pleased to inform the vendors who had purchased and enjoyed these as garden ornaments for many years, with no idea of their true value."
According to the auctioneers, the sphinxes are one of the highest value lots to be sold at a provincial auction this year.