LONDON: Two stone statues of sphinxes dating back 5,000 years and worth hundreds of thousands of dollars have been discovered in a garden in the English county of Suffolk.
The statues, over a meter tall each, were thought to be 18th- or 19th-century replicas, but after they were inspected by an expert, the garden ornaments turned out to be genuine.
Despite their poor condition, having been left outside in the garden for years and secured to the ground with cement, they still sold at auction for £195,000 ($265,000).
Auctioneer James Mander told Metro newspaper: “We were contacted by a local family who were moving house and needed to dispose of stuff from their old garden, which did not fit their new home.
“The condition was quite poor with heavy wear and various losses. They had been repaired by the current owners, using concrete, to fill the missing part under the head of one of the statues.”
He added: “They had stood on a garden patio as decoration until last month, when they were consigned to the auction.
“There was some interest prior to the auction during the viewing, but really we had no indication of their value until the auction began.
“The bidding started at £200, and it took fifteen minutes to sell, with competition from four telephone bidders and numerous internet buyers.
“The bidding quickly went up to £100,000 and then seemed to stall, until the hammer finally fell at £195,000 to an international auction gallery, setting a new house record.
“Opinion was that they were genuine Ancient Egyptian examples, which had somehow passed through recent history as 18th century copies.”
Mander said: “This was an exciting day at the auction, and we were very pleased to inform the vendors who had purchased and enjoyed these as garden ornaments for many years, with no idea of their true value.”