Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sculpture record

A tiny limestone figure of a lion from ancient Mesopotamia has sold at auction for $57m (£28m), almost double the previous record price for a sculpture. The 8.3cm (3.25in) tall Guennol Lioness is thought to have been carved 5,000 years ago in what is now Iraq and Iran.

The lion, whose new owner has not been identified, had been on loan to the Brooklyn Museum of Art for 59 years.

The previous record for a sculpture was set last month when Pablo Picasso's Tete de Femme was sold for $29m. A 2,000-year-old Roman bronze sold for $28m in June, the previous record price for an antiquity sold at auction.

The ancient carving, which was found at a site near Baghdad, was acquired in 1948 by Alastair and Edith Martin and formed part of their Guennol Collection.

The proceeds of the sale will benefit a charitable trust formed by the Martin Family.

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