2,000-year-old lamp sells for 445,000 pounds

The owner of the 19 inch high ornament is a retired school teacher in Britain.

Updated: Jan 22, 2011, 10:33 AM IST

London: An antique marble lampshade installed at a retired school teacher`s home in Britain was found to be a 2,000-year-old Roman relic and sold for a staggering 445,000 pounds at an auction here.

The owner of the 19 inch high ornament, retired schoolteacher John Barrett, had a hole drilled in the top and bottom of the urn to feed a cable through it. A light-bulb fitting was then placed on top before a 1970s-style red lampshade was hung on it to complete the "monstrosity".

The lamp was kept in the hallway of his home near Bath, until his death last year, the Daily Mail reported on Friday.

Auctioneers from Christie`s who were invited to value collectable items identified it as being a Roman marble cinerary urn dating to about the first century.

It was acquired in the 1950s by Barratt`s father, Sir Sydney Barratt, a scientist who helped create the "bouncing bomb" during the World War II.

Georgiana Aitkin, head of antiquities at Christie`s, said: "The item came into us in the form of an electric lamp that had a 1970s-style red lampshade on top of it... It was a bit of a monstrosity and it was a shame that such an historically important item had been turned into a domestic lamp."

Sir Sydney Barratt, who died in 1975 aged 77, built up his collection of art and antiques after taking on his father`s passion for collectables.

It was acquired by him for his then home in Summerhill, Staffs, before he installed it at 18th century home near Bath when he moved there in 1961.

The art collection, making up 383 lots, was sold by Christie`s of London for a total of 3.2 million pounds.

IANS