Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


10 December 2010

A Cycladic figurine breaks records in New York: sold for nearly $17 million U.S. dollars

A rare 4,400-year-old marble sculpture sold for a stunning $16.8 million (USD) at Christie’s in New York on Thursday (December 9). The sculpture is believed to date all the way back to 2400 B.C. and has survived antiquity in perfect condition. The 11 and a half inch figure is carved from white marble. It is one of only twelve known sculptures attributed to an artist called the Schuster Master, named after the figure’s previous owner. It is also the only figure to remain intact over the centuries. Christie’s said the Cycladic marble reclining female figure is the first of its kind to be offered at auction. “It’s in pristine condition, It’s never been broken. The surface is absolutely pristine as well. It also has great provenance, which is what we are looking for in this market”, said Max Bernheimer, Christie’s International Head of Antiques. The marble masterpiece was estimated to sell for between $3 million and $5 million, but during the auction, a battle was waged between two anonymous bidders on the phone, driving the final hammer price to $15 million U.S. dollars. Including Christie’s commission, the final sale price of the marble masterpiece was $16,882,500 (USD). Bernheimer said the sale shows the strength of the art market. “Even if we had sold it at the low estimate, which was $3 million dollars, it would have been a world record, but at this point in the economy, the art market is thriving and it’s a masterpiece market. So, this is a masterpiece and therefore the price is no surprise at all”, he said. Most of Schuster Master’s figures depict pregnant women.


Christie’s description of the figurine

Christie’s short video about the forthcoming auction

Christie’s auction video


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