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5,000-YEAR-OLD STATUE OF LIONESS SELLS FOR $57.1 MILLION

Guennol Lioness (detail), Elam, ca. 3000 - 2800 B.C
Photo courtesy of Sotheby's New York

 

Staff Report

NEW YORK, 8 DECEMBER 2007 —The Guennol Lioness, one of the last known masterworks from the dawn of civilization (ancient Sumer) remaining in private hands, sold for $57,161,000 (including commission) at Sotheby's New York on Wednesday. This is a record for any sculpture at auction.

Diminutive in size (8.3 cm / 3 ¼ inches high), the Guennol Lioness was carved approximately 5,000 years ago in Elam in  ancient Mesopotamia. Its creation was contemporaneous with the first known use of the wheel, the development of cuneiform writing, and the emergence of the first cities. The sculpture was acquired in 1948 by Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife Edith Martin, whose Guennol Collection was highly regarded by scholars and museums for decades. The Guennol Lioness had been on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art for nearly 60 years. Before the auction the statue had been estimated at $14 -18 million. The proceeds of the auction will benefit a charitable trust formed by the Martin Family.


Guennol Lioness, Elam, ca. 3000 - 2800 B.C
Photo courtesy of Sotheby's New York

The previous record for an antiquity at auction was $28,600,000 paid for Artemis and the Stag on 6 June 2007 at Sotheby’s New York.

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