Scruffy garden statues turn out to be ancient Egyptian Sphinxes worth £195,000

  • Watch an interview with Auctioneer James Mander

A pair of scruffy garden statues from Suffolk have fetched nearly £200,000 at auction after turning out to be ancient Egyptian Sphinxes.

The ornaments were sold by a family from Clare near Sudbury after they decided to move house.

Auctioneers put a guide price of £300 to £500 on the pair, but they sold at auction for £195,000 plus 24 per cent buyers premium.

Auctioneer James Mander said they were contacted by the local family who needed to dispose of many items from their old property, which did not fit their new home.

The sphinxes had sat on a garden patio for years Credit: Mander's Auctioneers

The stone statues were heavily weathered and quite damaged, measuring over a metre long.

According to the family they were bought at a country house sale in East Anglia around fifteen years ago for a few hundred pounds.

The Sphinxes are thought to be from ancient Egypt and could be around 5000 years old Credit: Mander's Auctioneers

They were believed to date from the 18th century and were probably acquired during a grand tour in the 18th or 19th century.

Mr Mander said they were traditional in form, with a human head, on the body of a lion, intended to symbolise strength, but their condition was quite poor. They had been repaired by the current owners, using concrete to fill the missing part under the head of one of the statues.

They had stood on a garden patio until last month, when they were sent to auction.

The statues were bought by an international auction house. The price is one of the highest at a provincial auction house this year.

James 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”.