A British family is celebrating today after a small statuette of an ostrich sold for a staggering £1.8m.
The 15-inch bronze piece was made by the workshop of celebrated Flemish Renaissance sculptor Giambologna in the late 16th or early 17th century.
It was previously owned by politician and writer Horace Walpole whose family sold it in 1842 for £3,000 in today’s money.
It was bought by John Dunn-Gardner, the self-titled Earl of Leicester, and had been in his family ever since.
His present-day ancestors had no idea of its importance or value until they called in the experts.
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Even then, Martin Millard and his colleagues at Cheffins Auctioneers in Cambridgeshire spent about two years researching the piece.
It turns out the sculpture was one of three known to have been made by the Giambologna workshop 400-plus years ago.
Of the other two, one is held in the Louvre in Paris, the third in the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.
The statuette was given a pre-sale estimate of £80,000 to £120,000 but after a 20-minute bidding war, a UK collector bought it for £1,824,540 including fees.
Mr Millard said: “[The owners] hoped it would do well but not in their wildest dreams did they have expected to sell for so much.
“It is a life-changing sum of money for anybody.”