Friday, February 16, 2007

New York: City of Antiquities

Sotheby’s 6 December sale of the Judith H. Siegel Collection of historicist jewellery by Castellani and Giuliano totalled $7.4m, with only five lots left unsold. Once again, it came as no surprise that the highest price of the day should have been the $475,200 paid for Castellani’s glorious Egyptian Revival gold, scarab and micromosaic necklace and brooch. What elicited a gasp from the floor was the $234,000 paid for his copy of a Byzantine gold and micromosaic brooch which had been estimated at $10,000-$15,000.

The real McCoy stole the day at Christie’s antiquities sale on 7 December: an Egyptian sarcophagus complete with the mummy of one Neskhons. The former was extravagantly painted in hieroglyphs, as was the custom in the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1040-900 bc). It appears that the coffin was excavated in 1900 when Liberty H. Holden of Cleveland, Ohio, purchased Neskhons during his Egyptian tour and donated him to the Western Reserve Historical Society, which is now $1.14m (£576,650) richer.

From Apollo Magazine, February 2007. Are these treasures now to be in private collections invisible to the public eye?

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