Biblical Archaeology Review 34:2, March/April 2008

Strata: $57 Million for BAR WorldWide

When we featured the Guennol Lioness as the WorldWide in our November/December 2007 issue of BAR, it was expected to sell for as much as $18 million at auction— an amazing amount, considering the figurine stands just over 3 inches high— but when the auctioneer’s gavel finally banged at Sotheby’s on December 5, 2007, $18 million ended up being the price per inch.

With a final bid of $57 million, the Guennol Lioness (actual size) set a new record for the highest price ever paid for a sculpture at auction, smashing the previous record of $29 million, set by Pablo Picasso’s bronze “Tete de Femme,” which was also auctioned at Sotheby’s earlier in 2007.

The elegantly carved limestone lion, which dates to the proto-Elamite period (c. 3000–2800 B.C.) and was found in modern-day Iraq, may once have been worn as a pendant.

The figurine had been on loan at the Brooklyn Museum from owners Alastair and Edith Martin for almost 60 years. The proceeds from the sale will benefit a charitable trust set up by the Martins.— D.D.R.

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