London, Oct 25, IRNA - A 2,500 year old Persian sculpture, dating from the Achaemenid era, was sold for over Dlrs 1 million at a London auction Thursday after its real ownership was disputed in litigation.
Christie's auction house said that the Achaemenid Relief, which dates from the first half of the 5th Century BC and depicts the profile head of a Persian guardsman in profile, was purchased for Pnds 580,500 (Dlrs 1,188,284).
"The relief was bought by an anonymous client who intends to loan and eventually gift it to a European institution in gratitude for the work done by such an institution in promoting Iranian history, art and culture," it said.
The price of the sculpture, similar to others from the ancient city of Persepolis, was at the lower end of its value, which had been estimated to be worth up to Pnds 800,000 and was the highlight of the auction of antiquities.
It comes after the ownership of the Achaemenid Relief was contested by Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization at London's High Court in January that originally delayed the auction.
Denyse Berend, a French collection owner, kept the piece for 30 years in her private collection in France after it was unearthed uring archaeological excavations in 1933,
To prove Iran's ownership, a documentary film and pictures of the excavations carried out in Persepolis and a complete report of the rchaeology team working there were submitted to the court.
But it was argued that as the relief had already been sold later in a New York action in 1974 to the present owner, the resale was not forbidden.
Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) said that UNESCO has failed to fulfill its duty.
The ICHTO has announced that Iran will file a lawsuit against any owner of the antique who takes it out of England.
Although UNESCO and a London court did not support Iran's right in this case, all lovers of cultural heritage and global peace around the world know that this historical piece has been illegally taken away from its homeland, a statement by the ICHTO said.
Iran asks all cultural heritage lovers to help return the Achaemenid antique to Iran's Persepolis, a part of the world cultural heritage, it added.
The Iranian Embassy in London warned about the sale of the bas-relief of an Achaemenid soldier in March 2005, which was about to be sold in London's Christie's.
Filing a lawsuit with a London court, Iranian cultural heritage officials asked for the return of the item to its homeland.
Initial investigations revealed that the artifact is part of the stairway of Apadana Palace in Iran's Persepolis which was sold during an auction in 1974 in New York to a private owner. It was kept for 30 years in her private collection in France.
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