A retired couple were moving house and thought their carved sphinxes didn’t fit with the style of their new home so decided to throw them away, but at the last minute changed their mind and put them up for sale
A retired couple were shocked when they discovered that a pair of sphinxes they bought for £300 turned out to be 5,000-year-old artefacts worth nearly £200,000.
The pair were moving house and thought the garden ornaments didn’t fit with the style of their new home, so decided to throw them away.
Thankfully, they changed their mind at the last minute and decided to put them up for sale – and they went under the hammer with Mander Auctioneers, run by James Mander.
Bidding started at £200 but soon bids came racing in, and in the end the sphinxes sold to an international art gallery for a whopping £195,000.
James said: “This was an exciting day at the auction.
“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.
“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 sphinxes were collected from the garden of a house near Clare, Suffolk, among various garden ornaments.
At this time they were believed to be 18th century in date, probably acquired during the grand tour in the 18th or 19th century.
But experts established that they were genuine ancient Egyptian examples that had somehow passed through history as 18th-century copies.
Sphinxes were treasured in ancient Egypt as guardians to temples and were viewed as benevolent and ferociously strong.
The items are believed to be one of the highest value lots to be sold at a local auction this year.