London: An antique electric lamp has been sold at an auction here for a whopping 445,000 pounds after it was found to be a 2,000-year-old Roman relic.
The 19-inch-high ornament fetched 445,250 pounds when the contents of late school teacher John Barratt`s home were sold, Daily Mail reported yesterday.
It was acquired in the 1950s by John Barratt`s father Sir Sydney Barratt, a distinguished scientist who helped create the World War II Dambusters` celebrated `bouncing bombs`, it said.
Following John`s death last year, his niece sold the mansion with an asking price of 6 million pounds, and some of the contents have now been auctioned by Christie`s. Auctioneers were stunned when bidding raced rapidly towards half a million, boosting the total proceeds from the sale to 3.2 million pounds.
"The item came into us in the form of an electric lamp that had a 1970s-style red lampshade on top of it. We had a closer examination of it and unscrewed the lamp and took the lid off to look inside," Georgiana Aitkin, Christie`s head of antiquities was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.
Two very small holes had been drilled in the top of the lid and in the bottom so a cable could run up through the middle of it, Aitkin said.
"On top of the lid a metal fitting had been fixed in place that secured the lightbulb, and on top of that was the lampshade. It was a bit of a monstrosity and it was a shame that such a historically important item had been turned into a domestic lamp. We removed the fittings and were able to date the urn to about the first century AD," Aitkin said.
The alterations and drill holes didn`t seem to affect the price, which was quite enormous and surprised us, Aitkin added.