British auction house Mander Auctioneers sold on Saturday two sphinxes it had acquired from a Suffolk family who considered them “funny” dolls.
Auction manager James Mander told local media that the family contacted the charity to get rid of some belongings from their former home during the move, and among the items were these two statues that adorned their garden.
Mander Auctioneers estimated the Sphinx as “19th-century stone-carved garden models” and put the asking price for the lot at between £300 and £500 ($408 and $680).
However, during the auction it turned out to be more valuable as it was actually not just a replica and belonged to the time of ancient Egypt.
Colleagues at another auction house noticed the piece’s age and bought it for £195,000 ($265,400), 500 times the asking price. The name of the buyer was not disclosed, but it is known that it is an international entity.
The sphinxes, over a meter high, were not in good shape and had also been fixed with concrete by their last owners, who tried to complete the missing part under the head of one of the statues.
The family, who have kept them all this time in their garden, said they bought them some 15 years ago for several hundred pounds in East Anglia, never suspecting they were Egyptian sphinxes.
“There was some pre-auction interest during our preview, but we actually had no indication of its value until the auction started.”