Georgina Adam comes up with a treasure of a story in her Financial Times column (with apologies for the late posting.) The French town of Vannes played host to a world-class auction:
Curators from the Louvre and antiquities dealers from New York, London and Switzerland had flown in, as had collectors from the US, Canada, Italy and the Netherlands. Joining them was Sheikh Saud al-Thani of Qatar, once the world’s biggest art buyer and still a powerful force in the market, who came in his private jet.
The lure was an extraordinary trove of antiquities mainly dating from the fifth to third centuries BC, excavated or acquired in the late 19th century by a French archaeologist, Louis-Gabriel Bellon. Many of the 373 lots had been kept in their period boxes, along with centenary dust. “It was highly emotional, opening boxes untouched since 1915,” said sale specialist Christophe Kanuki.
Among his finds were 100 Tanagra figurines (ancient Greek terracottas of elegantly draped women), along with Greek and Roman glass and ceramics, and bronzes: some were exceptionally rare. The results were astonishing – so frantic was the bidding that it took the auctioneer a full seven hours to hammer down the collection. Estimated at just €400,000-€500,000, the sale made a stunning €3.5m, with the highest price of €168,000 made by a first-century Roman glass amphora, which sold for 10 times its estimate.
The art market: Treasure trove in dusty old boxes (Financial Times)