Treasure Hunting and a Big Dividend

Dara Mayers - 09/03/2019

Last week we were flipping through a glorious old catalogue—Helena Rubinstein’s collection of French furniture and decorations—which sold at Parke-Bernet in 1966. In it were a few antiquities. One, a spectacular Egyptian piece, was familiar. We had seen it, and lusted after it, when it was sold at Sotheby’s in 2015.

Again we were amazed at how the value of truly timeless works of art grows, sometimes
incredibly dramatically, over time. In 1966 the piece sold for $2500. In 2015—not
quite 50 years later—it sold for $1,450,000, an increase of 58,000%.

What we learned from this is that we were born half a century too late. And, more importantly, that—over the long term—truly exceptional pieces, with good provenance, can be fantastic investments.

This finely sculpted ancient Egyptian faience ushabti of Horudja is such a piece. Horudja’s tomb was discovered by Flinders Petrie at Hawara, near the Faiyum, in 1888. Petrie found 399 ushabtis belonging to Horudja, distributed between two niches at either end of the
sarcophagus. Many had been damaged by flooding in the tomb. This example is finely
preserved, and shows the workmanship of a master artisan; he looks alive, and ready, when called, to work for eternity, with peace and dedication.

The figure holds farming implements, the body is inscribed with nine horizontal bands of hieroglyphics naming Horudja, a priest of the goddess Neith. This piece was purchased from Charles Ede Ltd., in London, 1994. Similar Horudja ushabtis are held at The Art Institute of Chicago and The Manchester Museum.

Collecting is about far more than dollars and cents, of course. But there’s no doubt: treasure hunting is part of the addiction. There’s something about finding the undiscovered, the unrecognized, the rare, the hidden. There’s something about seeing value that others don’t. And while you get to enjoy the history and uniqueness of the piece now, you are also building a dynamic legacy of beauty and value that transcends time.

We know that you enjoy the hunt as much as we do, and hope that you find treasures to
make your own when you visit

Dara Mayers, Director


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