Bloomberg -- An ancient limestone statue of a regal lioness just 3 inches tall sold today for $57.2 million including commissions at Sotheby's in New York, doubling the previous auction record for sculpture.
The price more than tripled the sculpture's presale high estimate of $18 million. The previous record was $28.6 million, set in June for a Roman bronze of Artemis, goddess of the hunt.
The buyer, dressed in a gray suit, attended the sale and was identified by Sotheby's as English. He declined to comment. The sale price didn't surprise at least one observer.
``It's completely understandable,'' said Robert Simon, a New York art dealer who specializes in Old Master paintings. ``It's a phenomenal piece. It has tremendous power.''
Known as the Guennol Lioness, the 5,000-year-old Elam statue is said to have been made in what is now Iran and found near Baghdad, Sotheby's said. It's been on view at the Brooklyn Museum since 1948, on loan from Alastair Bradley Martin, the grandson of steel magnate Henry Phipps.
Martin and his late wife assembled an art collection ranging from Mexican folk sculpture to a Willem de Kooning painting to Japanese porcelains. They named their Long Island home and collection ``Guennol,'' the Welsh word for Martin, a romantic nod to their honeymoon in Wales.
The Guennol Collection was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1969 and the Brooklyn Museum in 2000. Martin has served as a trustee and president of the board of the Brooklyn Museum. The sale benefits a charitable trust established by the Martin family.
The final price includes a buyer's premium, or commission, of 25 percent of the hammer price up to $20,000, 20 percent of the price from $20,000 to $500,000, and 12 percent above $500,000.