Clare couple's sphinx garden ornaments sell for £195,000 at auction after ancient Egyptian origin revealed
A retired couple's pair of carved sphinxes that sat on their front lawn for 15 years have sold for £195,000 after they were found to be genuine artefacts from ancient Egypt.
The couple, who live in Suffolk near Clare, almost threw away the stone relics as they believed them to be 18th Century replicas after buying them for £300 at an auction house.
They had used the mythical sphinxes as decoration for their garden patio with no idea that they were ancient Egyptian artefacts.
But when bidding started at £200, telephone and internet buyers flooded in and the sphinxes finally sold to an international art gallery for a whopping £195,000.
Auctioneer James Mander 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, 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.