Antiquities dealers are observing a growing trend amongst art and furniture aficionados in introducing ancient Greek artefacts and Byzantine statues in their modern, state-of-the-art homes. This is an interesting swerve from the contemporary art boom – one that has inspired an increasing interest level in other, older times and civilizations. Antiquities is a very broad definition encompassing all valuable artefacts coming from civilizations in the Middle East, Egypt, Europe and the Mediterranean basin up to around 1000 AD. With a staggering variety of material and shape – the selection includes rare sculpture, exquisite jewellery, fine glassware, ceramics and metalwork and even well-preserved pottery and engraved gems. A perfect example of the beauty and decorum of the precious carvings is the Roman marble portrait bust of Antinous sold at New York’s Sotheby’s for $23.8 million. Another striking piece is the 4,300-4,400-year-old Egyptian limestone statue of Sekhemka, valued at £16 million at Christie’s.
An expensive and majestic artefact is the Guennol Lioness – a 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian stone statuette of a lion-headed figure, priced at for $57.2m.
Galleries respond to the new trend with the introduction of ‘by appointment only’ boutiques likes London’s Daniel Katz. Inside the eminent dealer’s den you can marvel at the 2,000-year-old diorite-stone sculpture of an Egyptian priest and even take it home for £245,000. A more contemporary bronze frog by Eduardo Paolozzi from 1957 is valued at £225,000.
In the gallery of Gregory and James Demirjian buyers can inspect the divine 3rd-2nd century BC Greece Aphrodite with meticulous carvings and a price tag of £2 million. It contrasts beautifully with south Arabian stele on sale for £90,000, which clean, cut geometry and gimlet eyes. A variety of gold coins from different periods range in price from £2,500 to £400,000 and attract attention to the other precious artefacts like bronze Corinthian helmets for £950.000 and heavy Lion Head bracelets for £550,000.