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Sphinxes Surprise Saleroom

October 21, 2021

two ancient Egyptian stone sphinxes antiquities

Wouldn’t it be nice to find out that something you have had in your possession for years, that you assumed was worthless, turned out to be the real deal? That is what happened to one lucky family in the United Kingdom. The family was moving to a new home and decided to sell some of their belongings including a pair of carved stone statues of sphinxes – mythical creatures with a lion’s body and a human head, that had been in their garden for years.

The family bought the sphinxes at an auction about 15 years ago for just a few hundred pounds. When they purchased them, they assumed they were 18th or 19th-century replicas of ancient Egyptian relics. Well, it turns out the heavily weathered garden decorations were, in fact, genuine ancient Egyptian artifacts. The auctioneer was unaware of the authenticity of the statues and gave them a pre-sale estimate of £300-500 ($407-680); after all, they were in rough condition sitting outside for years. One of the statues had been repaired using cement to re-attach its head.

The auction house stated there was modest interest in the items before the sale, but nothing would indicate how high the bidding might go. The lot opened at £200 ($272), but the price quickly escalated with interest from four telephone bidders and numerous online bidders. After the bidding frenzy finished, the buyer paid £195K/$266K (£242K/$330K w/p), setting a record for the auction house. The auction room later reported that the winning bidder was an international auction gallery; I am sure we will see these fine specimens surface again, and who knows what they will sell for the next time around!