Hindu deities prove lucky for Cotswolds couple
April 26, 2014: A Hindu deity bought for "pennies" at a street market in Tibet and then kept under a desk has sold for more than 1,000 times its asking price – a whopping £90,000.
The 300-year-old gilt bronze statue was part of a pair picked up by a British collector many years ago who left them to his nephew when he died.
Unaware of their value, he kept them under his desk until a clear-out prompted him to sell them as "they were too nice to use as doorstops".
Auctioneers British Bespoke Auctions put an £80 estimate on the pearl-set figure of supreme god Lord Shiva, hoping the 26cm statue might fetch £120. But they were astonished when an international bidding war saw the rare figure go to a Chinese collector for £90,000 – 1,135 times its asking price. The smaller statue was also snapped up for £23,000 – excelling its £60 estimate. It went to a buyer in the room, a representative of a collector.
Nicholas Granger, owner of the auction house in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, said: "They really were the most amazing two items we've ever had in six years of having the auction room. They're thought to be up to 300 years old and were very difficult to value. It just shows the power of the internet. As soon as we put them up there we had interest from all over the world. We had ten different buyers on the phone as well as all the interest in the room.
"Making the vendors aware of the outcome was a very special moment. I made sure they were sitting down first."
The larger statue – set with pearls, emeralds and coral – was valued at between £80 and £120, when it came in from a couple in Winchcombe. The smaller 18cm deity, decorated with similar jewels, was valued at 60 to £80. It is thought they were once used in a Tibetan Hindu temple.
Speaking of the initial buyer, Mr Granger said: "He was just a general collector. He'd go round stalls in Tibet, just picking up bits he liked. It would've cost him pounds, just a few pounds, or even pennies. The gentleman left it to his nephew and it was sat under his desk for quite a few years.
"They were doing a clear out and they thought 'these are a bit nice to have as a doorstop' so brought them along to the local auction house."