Roman Imperial Marble Torso Auctions for $7.4 million at Sotheby’s

At Sotheby’s New York, a Marble Torso of an Emperor (possibly Augustus, Tiberius or Claudius), Roman Imperial, Julio Claudian, 1st Half of the 1st Century A.D., surpassed expectations, selling for a remarkable $7,362,500, more than six times the high estimate of $1.2 million.

At least seven bidders in the room and on numerous telephones pursued the stunning piece, which was from an Austrian family collection. The salesroom erupted in applause when an anonymous bidder, participating over the telephone, cast the winning bid.

The Marble Torso of an Emperor was included in a sale of Antiquities which totaled $17,479,940 (est. $3.2/4.8 million), the highest total for a sale in this category at Sotheby’s since December 2007. Of the lots that sold in today’s sale, nearly 90% achieved prices at or above their estimates.

The same Austrian family collection that consigned the aforementioned torso had also consigned Three Satyrs Fighting a Serpent, Roman Imperial, circa 1st century A.D., a rediscovered antiquity from the collection of one of the greatest arts patrons of all time – Lorenzo de’ Medici. As the only ancient sculpture confirmed to have been in ‘il Magnifico’s’ collection, competition was also fierce for the ancient treasure, which finally sold to an anonymous private buyer for $3,442,500, more than six times the high estimate of $500,000. The cover lot of the auction, a Marble Bust of the Athena Giustiniani, Roman Imperial, circa 2nd Century A.D. was also among the highlights of the day, selling for $4,114,500, surpassing a pre-sale estimate of $600/900,000.

Image: Marble Torso of an Emperor, Est. $800,000/1.2 million. Sold for a remarkable $7,362,500. Photo: Sotheby’s.

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