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December 08, 2007

Guennol Lioness

The Guennol Lioness is a tiny (3.5 inch) statue that has just sold for a truly enormous price:

The Guennol Lioness is a 5000-year-old Mesopotamian statue found near Baghdad, Iraq. Depicting a well-muscled anthropomorphic lioness, it sold for $57.2 million at Sotheby's auction house on December 5, 2007. The price was the highest ever paid for a sculpture in history. The piece was acquired by private collector Alastair Bradley Martin in 1948 and has been on display in New York's Brooklyn Museum of Art ever since. The limestone piece, measuring just over eight centimeters (3 1/4 inches) tall, was described by Sotheby's auction house as "one of the last known masterworks from the dawn of civilization remaining in private hands."[1] One day before the auction, experts mostly estimated the highest bid to be between $14 million and $18 million.It also beat the 28.6 million dollars paid for "Artemis and the Stag,"[2] a 2,000-year-old bronze figure which sold also at Sotheby's in New York in June, 2007 and held the record for the most expensive antiquity to be sold at auction.

That was a pretty good invetment there you'd think, eh? But I wonder how much was paid for the Guennol Lioness in 1948? Still, most expensive sculpture ever it is:

A tiny and extremely rare 5,000-year-old white limestone sculpture from ancient Mesopotamia sold for 57.2 million dollars in New York on Wednesday, smashing records for both sculpture and antiquities. The carved Guennol Lioness, measuring just over eight centimeters (3 1/4 inches) tall, was described by Sotheby’s auction house as one of the last known masterworks from the dawn of civilization remaining in private hands. “It was an honor for us to handle The Guennol Lioness, one of the greatest works of art of all time,” Richard Keresey and Florent Heintz, the experts in charge of the sale, said in a joint statement. “Before the sale, a great connoisseur of art commented to us that he always regarded the figure as the ‘finest sculpture on earth’ and it would appear that the market agreed with him,” they said.

The buyer is British.....so I wonder who that could be? We don't actually have that many people capable, let alone willing, to pay those sorts of prices:

An itsy bitsy 5,000-year-old limestone statue known as the Guennol Lioness sold for US$57.2-million (including commission) on Wednesday, setting a new record for the auction price of a sculpture or antiquity. There aren’t a whole lot of details about the purchaser of the three-inch lioness, who wanted to stay anonymous. (Would you want to announce to the world that you’re the kind of guy who has 50-million-plus bucks to spare for a mantelpiece tchotchke?) But we know this much: He’s an English archaeologist who had to cough up a 12% premium on the “hammer price” of his purchase to Sotheby’s. Hope they gave him a complimentary Sotheby’s bag to take home his purchase.
According to the BBC, the Guennol Lioness is believed to have been sculpted at a location in present-day Iran and Iraq. Sotheby’s described the statue as a “storied figure [which], in its brilliant combination of an animal form and human pose, has captured the imagination of academics and the public.” New York art dealer Robert Simon — who didn’t get a cut of the action — called the lioness “a phenomenal piece.”

You'd have to be a billionnaire to pay that sort of price and there simply aren't that many English ones around. Andrew Lloyd Webber collects are, but he's not known to be interested in ancient stuff. I wonder who it was?

Anyway, here's a Canadian report on it:

A French one:

And a simple wire service report.

December 8, 2007 in Current Affairs | Permalink

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According to the research of institute Elamirkan, the Kurdish nation is the next of kin of the Elamite peoples “Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadian, Aurámi/Haurámi (Aramaian), Hati, Huti (Hittitian), Hurrian and other civilizations in Kurdish territory” the Guennol Lioness has been found at Kurdsán en belongs to historico cultural-heritage of the Kurdish nation.
It was found at a site in Kurdsán about 80 years ago and seems to be stolen by British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley and bought in 1931 by Joseph Brummer, a New York art dealer. In 1948, he sold it to New Yorker Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife Edith. The couple - who have Welsh origins, called their estate Guennol - which is Welsh for Martin. For most of the time since the Martins bought the lioness, it has been on permanent loan to New York's Brooklyn Museum.
It was carved by a craftsman from Elam, the ancient Kurdsán. At Sotheby’s New York, the Guennol Lioness, sold for a remarkable $57161000, a record for any sculpture at auction.

Posted by: Info Elamirkan | Dec 19, 2007 12:53:14 PM

The Guennol Lioness, stolen ancient Kurdish artwork “Dív Šír” sold for a remarkable $57.161.000, a record for any sculpture at auction
According to the research of institute Elamirkan, the Kurdish nation is the next of kin of the Elamite peoples “Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadian, Aurámi/Haurámi (Aramaian), Hati, Huti (Hittitian), Hurrian and other civilizations in Kurdish territory” the Guennol Lioness has been found at Kurdsán en belongs to historico cultural-heritage of the Kurdish nation.
It was found at a site in Kurdsán about 80 years ago and seems to be stolen by British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley and bought in 1931 by Joseph Brummer, a New York art dealer. In 1948, he sold it to New Yorker Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife Edith. The couple - who have Welsh origins, called their estate Guennol - which is Welsh for Martin. For most of the time since the Martins bought the lioness, it has been on permanent loan to New York's Brooklyn Museum.
It was carved by a craftsman from Elam, the ancient Kurdsán. At Sotheby’s New York, the Guennol Lioness, sold for a remarkable $57161000, a record for any sculpture at auction.

Posted by: Info Elamirkan | Dec 19, 2007 12:58:39 PM