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Messerschmidt Bust Brings $1.8M at London Auction

Sotheby’s July 8 sale of European sculpture and works of art took £2.65 million ($1.8 million). A total of 85, or 63 percent, of 135 works on offer found buyers.

NEW YORK—Sotheby’s July 8 sale of European sculpture and works of art took £2.65 million ($1.8 million). A total of 85, or 63 percent, of 135 works on offer found buyers.

The top lot by far was an alabaster bust, Rescue from Drowning, by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736-83). The sculpture fetched £1 million ($1.8 million), accounting for a sizable portion of the overall auction total. According to Sotheby’s, of the 49 Messerschmidt character heads exhibited in Vienna in 1793, only 16 were sculpted in alabaster. The work on offer, which had been estimated at £600,000/800,000, is the only original alabaster known to be located outside Austria.

Other strong prices included: £136,800 ($238,265) for a rare Late 15th-century mother-of-pearl triptych, which soared over its £10,000/15,000 estimate. A Bust of Sarah Bernhardt, by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), doubled its £30,000/50,000 estimate to bring £102,000 ($177,653), while another Gérôme sculpture, Bonaparte entrant au Caire (Napoleon entering Cairo), made £131,200 ($228,511).

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