Gold Stater from Pantikapaion
The much-anticipated 642-lot sale of the Prospero collection of classical Greek coins conducted by A.H. Baldwin & Sons of London (in association with Dmitry Markov of New York and M&M Numismatics Ltd of Washington DC) concluded after eight hours at 03.30 EST on January 5 (2012).
Although results were still in the process of being confirmed, initial figures released by Baldwin's suggest a 'white glove' sale and a premium-inclusive total of approximately $25m, more than double the pre-sale estimate.
A new record for the classical coin was set when the catalogue cover lot, a gold stater from Pantikapaion depicting the head of a satyr, soared past the $650,000 estimate to bring $3.25m (plus 17 per cent buyer's premium).
Ranked among the most spectacular numismatic objects to have survived from the ancient world, it is the only example in private hands.
In total around 200 bidders were in attendance in the Vanderbilt suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York (a fitting venue for the most significant auction of ancient Greek coins for 20 years) with an additional 156 registered to bid online via the-saleroom.com contributing $1.4m to the total.
The underlying strength of this market, and the spectacular range and condition of this particular collection, ensured many coins were taken to previously unseen levels. European and American dealers and collectors proved particularly strong buyers.
Paul Hill, Baldwin's ancient coin specialist who had devoted much of 2010 to the cataloguing and promotion of the sale, commented immediately after the auction:
"The sale of the Prospero collection has far exceeded our expectations. It has truly been a once-in-a-generation auction and one that will go down in numismatic history. It was an honour and a privilege to catalogue this collection and the results achieved are testament to the dedicated team at Baldwin's."
The gold coin features the head of bearded satyr facing, inclined slightly to the left, with long dishevelled hair and horse's ears on the obverse. The reverse of the coin depicts a winged griffin standing to the left holding a spear in its jaws, above a large grain-ear. Its horned head is facing, and its right forepaw is raised.