A bronze sculpture of the Roman goddess Artemis fetched $28.6 million Thursday at auction, a world-record auction price for a sculpture of any period, Sotheby’s said.
“Artemis and the Stag,” dating from the first century B.C. to first century A.D., was purchased by London art dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi on behalf of “a European private collector,” according to Sotheby’s spokeswoman Lauren Gioia.
The price of $28.6 million, including seller’s commission, is the highest ever paid at auction for a sculpture from any era, Gioia said.
The previous auction record for a sculpture was $27.4 million, for a marble version of Constantin Brancusi’s modernist “Bird in Space.” It was sold in 2005 at a Christie’s auction in New York.
Eskenazi was on hand to make the winning bid — far exceeding Sotheby’s pre-auction high estimate of $7 million. The sculpture was sold by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., to raise funds for other art purchases.
Sotheby’s catalog described the 36-inch-high bronze as “one of the finest large Classical bronze figures in America today ... certainly the most splendid to appear on the market in living memory.”
It depicts the goddess of the hunt in billowing gown just after shooting her bow. Her arms are gracefully outstretched and she’s flanked by a small stag. The sculpture became known in the early 1930s during the rebuilding of houses near Saint John Lateran church in Rome on Roman ruins.