Roman Marble Bust Sells Far Above Estimate
A marble bust portrait of the deified Antinous stunned the crowds at Sotheby's New York selling for far above the estimate. The marble portrait bust of the Deified Antinous, Roman Imperial, Reign of Hadrian, Circa A.D. 130-138 sold for $23.8 million, way above the high estimate of $3 million. The sculpture is the only known representation of Antinous to be identified by an inscription aside from his coin. Antinous was a member of the emperor Hadrian's entourage and after his death Hadrian grieved heavily, founding cities and temples in his honor and decreeing his deification. Part of the lure of this particular lot has to be the emotion it represents, the grief of the most powerful man in the world, the emperor of Rome who could do everything but bring back the dead.
The winning bidder for the bust was a European collector, who started bidding at $6.5 million and beat out three existing bidders as well as another who jumped in at $11.2 million. It took more than eleven minutes for the lot to sell and the crowd broke into applause when the hammer finally fell.
The total sale of The Collection of the Late Clarence Day brought in $ 36,769,250, four times the high estimates. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the charitable foundation established by Mr. Day. A green porphyry figure of an Egyptian Royal Sphinx, Roman Imperial, Circa 1st Century A.D, sold for $5,234,500 after a contest between five bidders, handily beating the high estimate of $1.2 million. The piece is a direct Roman emulation, or replica, of a specific ancient Egyptian sphinx of the New Kingdom that was excavated in the 1850s.
Clarence Day was a devoted philanthropist. His foundation has benefitted many groups including the Mayo Clinic Foundation, St. Mary's School, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, The Early Childhood Institute at Mississippi State University, Boy Scouts, and Rhodes College. In 1989 he donated 60 pieces of Greek, Roman, Iranian, Egyptian, Etruscan and Byzantine antiquities to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.