AN “unwanted” collection of marble sculptures has sold for a record-breaking £1m – twice the estimate and almost as much as the castle in which they were housed.
The remarkable artworks were owned by the Scottish Youth Hostels Association (SYHA) and kept at Carbisdale Castle in the Highlands.
But the buyers of Carbisdale decided they did not want the sculptures included in the sale price.
The businessmen may now be regretting their decision after the 17 sculptures and 36 paintings – though to be worth about £500,000 – raised £1,003,939 at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday.
The castle itself, near Bonar Bridge overlooking the Kyle of Sutherland, sold for about £1.2m.
Among the items sold was the veined white marble statue Cupid in Repose by Joseph Christian Lotsch.
It was valued at £40,000 it went to a UK collector for an astounding £118,750, a record at action for the artist.
Henry Weekes’ The Young Naturalist in white marble was snapped up by a private collector £112,500 after being valued at just £40,000 – another record for the artist at auction.
Meanwhile the shock of the day came when a 19th century copy of the painting Jacob’s Dream by Lodovico Cardi fetched an eye-watering £35,000 after being valued at just £2,000.
In total the sculptures made £895,000 and the painting £108,314 when they came under the hammer.
The collection was the pride and joy of Mary Caroline, Dowager Duchess of Sutherland and a well known figure at the turn of the 19th century.
Married three times she built-up it up with the inheritance from her second husband – 3rd Duke of Sutherland.
In 1906 construction stated on Carbisdale Castle as part of the financial settlement agreed with the Dukes family which she decorated with painting and statues.
The property and it contents were donated to the SYHA in 1947 and run as a Scotland’s most decadent youth hotel.
A spokeswoman for the SYHA said they were “pleased with the outcome”.
She said: “The collection raised £1,003,939 and, after tax and costs, SYHA expects to receive in the region of £600,000.
“The proceeds if the sale will be used to sustain SYHA’s diverse youth hostel network of affordable fit-for-profit accommodation, allowing everyone, but especially young people, to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer.”
Erik Bizet, head of auctions sales at Sotheby’s, said: “Life-size marbles continue to appeal to collectors around the world.”
Last year Carbisdale Castle was put on the market for £1.2m and sold to hotel developers who plan to transform it into hotel five star hotel – minus the marbles.
One of the men in charge of the project, Kevin Keenan, had previously described it as a “majestic building”.
He said: “We have spent a considerable amount of time, money and resources to plan how we can both respect its grandeur yet still transform it into a five star luxury destination hotel that will rival any hotel offering in Scotland.”