Bust fetches $23.8 million at NY antiquities auction

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A marble bust sold for an astonishing $23.8 million at Sotheby’s’ antiquities auction on Tuesday, soaring to nearly 10 times its pre-sale estimate at a sale that saw every item offered finding a buyer.

The “Marble Portrait Bust of the Deified Antinous, Roman Imperial, Reign of Hadrian,” circa A.D. 130-138, fetched $23,826,500, including commission, leading the auction of antiquities from the collection of the late Clarence Day, who maintained one of the nation’s finest such collections, Sotheby’s said.

Five bidders competed for the bust, the only known classical representation of Antinous bearing an identifying inscription, apart from coins. The buyer was an unidentified European collector.

The sale totaled just over $36.7 million, against a pre-sale estimate of $5.7 million to $8.6 million.

Other highlights included a green Porphyry figure of an Egyptian Royal Sphinx, Roman Imperial Circa 1st Century A.D, which sold for $5.2 million, and an Egyptian Polychrome Limestone Ushabti Of Djehuty-Mose (Tothmes), Overseer Of The Cattle In The Temple Of Amun, 19th Dynasty, 1292-1190 B.C, which fetched $1,314,500. Each sold for more than four times the high estimate.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the charitable foundation established by Day, a philanthropist and collector whose beneficiaries included the Mayo Clinic, The Boy Scouts, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and several other Memphis charitable or arts organizations.

Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte