Antique Cleopatra Selene silver bust rules Christie's auction at $2.55m

The mystique of ancient Egypt still holds sway it seems for antique collectors. Christie's has just announced the results of its Antiquitie​s and Ancient Jewelry auction in New York which achieved a combined total of $14,868,413 and sold 70% by lot.

The top lot was a bust depicting Cleopatra Selene.

The Roman Parcel Gilt Silver Emblema of Cleopatra Selene was created within a few decades of the birth of Christ.

Raised from a single sheet, it is superbly sculpted in high relief in the form of the bust of a young woman wearing an elephant headdress over the top of her head. The raised trunk and tapering tusks project forward. All of these were separately made and inserted.

Roman parcel gilt silver emblema of Cleopatra Selene antique
The striking silver emblema of Cleopatra Selene

The skin of the beast is crosshatched, and each diamond is carefully punctuated by a central dot, and its broad ears sweep along her neck. The incredible detailing of the 17.4 cm tall piece saw it sell for $2.55m.

Aside from this extraordinary sale, sixteen lots from the Collection of John W. Kluge brought in nearly $3m, which contributes to the late philanthropist's pledge to fund student scholarships at Columbia University.

"We are thrilled with the combined sales total of nearly $15m, one of the highest in the history of Christie's worldwide Antiquities Department," said G. Max Bernheimer, International Department Head. 

"We were especially pleased with results of the Property from the Collection of John W. Kluge, sold to benefit Columbia University, which achieved a total of $2,970,500," added Molly Morse Limmer, Antiquities Department Head, New York.

"Every lot in the top ten sold to private or institutional buyers from Europe and North America.  The gilt silver bust of Cleopatra Selene, which came from a private New York-based collector, led the day, achieving $2,546,500 against an estimate of $2 - 3m, while the 13th annual Ancient Jewelry sale was the highest sold total yet achieved for this category, with extraordinary Celtic jewelry achieving over $600,000."

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