A rare marble statue of a Roman actor proved to be a show-stopper at Christie's Antiquites sale on Friday (June 8).
The figure was the unexpected star in New York, selling 270.6% above its high estimate of $250,000, realising $926,500 and providing the top lot of the sale.
The brilliantly rendered statue depicts the Old Man of Comedy, one of the most popular characters in Roman theatre. While dozens of masks portraying the character survive, a complete statue is an exceedingly rare find for collectors, with only three other extant examples currently known. This example, carved circa late 1st century AD, is the only one of the four not to have had later restoration work carried out.
Another dramatic increase was seen by an Egyptian painted votive linen, created circa 1300-1200 BC. The vibrantly coloured cloth shows the goddess Hathor in her usual form of a cow, with the inscription "Hathor, Lady of Heaven, Chieftainess of Thebes" below. The linen, intended as an offering to the goddess, was discovered in 1906 at a dedicated shrine in Deir el-Bahari.
The 552% increase on estimate witnessed by the cloth was a testament to the remarkable state of preservation the item had maintained, and the fine workmanship with which it was created. It sold for $782,500 against a high estimate of $120,000.
The auction, which realised a total of $8.9m, came just a day after Sotheby's own antiquities sale in New York, which saw a Greek marble carving sell for $902,500.
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