As it happened: Duke of Northumberland treasures auctioned by Sotheby's

Join reporter Kate Proctor for live updates from a special Sotheby's auction of rare treasures owned by the Duke of Northumberland          

The Duke of Northumberland
The Duke of Northumberland

A marble statue of the Greek goddess Aphrodite and dozens of art treasures owned by the Duke of Northumberland are estimated to raise £14m in a rare sale at Sotheby's on Wednesday evening. 

Up to 200 art bidders and dealers are expected to fill the auction room in London at 5pm where 60 lots will go under the hammer in the biggest ever sale of items from The Northumberland Estates. 

The sale is considered to contain some of the most prestigious items ever to be sold by an aristocratic family in Europe and many of pieces are on sale for the first time. 

Join us for live updates from the auction.


The move comes as the Estate seeks to balance its books having been hit with a repair bill of around £12m as a result of the flooding which hit Newburn, in Newcastle, in 2012.

The paintings, sculptures and furniture all come from two of the Duke's residences Alnwick Castle in Northumberland and Syon House outside London. 

It is expected that many pieces will go to Russian and Asian millionaire collectors as well as traditional European buyers with bids taken from the floor, online and over the phone. 


Dozens of people from around the world are already popping in and out of Sotheby's at Saint George Street to view the pieces due to go on sale later. 

The Aphrodite statue purchased by Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland in 1773 dates from 1AD and is expected to fetch between £4m and £6m. The 2m high sculpture has been kept at Syon Hall but had once stood in the Palazzo Cesi in Rome.


Reporter Kate Proctor has arrived in London and tweets this taste of what people at tonight's auction can expect:


More from Kate with a picture of the packed auction room at Sotheby's in London:


It's absolutely crammed into the room here, says Kate. A certain kind of Euro posh crowd. They all smell divine. Teething problems with the microphone so before we get started some more background on the sorts of treasures up for grabs:

The 'Alnwick Castle enamels' date from 1530 and are the earliest examples of painting enamel on copper and may go for £1.2m.

Hard stone mounted cabinets, many of which were bought on the 1st Duke and Duchess' Grand Tour in Italy in 1773, are also expected to be extremely popular and are the finest of their type in the world.


Starting with the blind Orion sculpture and we are at £150,000 already.


Gone to £290,000 - telephone bidder - hammer price.


Alnwick Castle ceramics - one of the big draws. At a million already.


Art masterpieces will be sold in a separate sale at 7pm and include Jan Brueghel the Elder's The Garden of Eden from 1613 and could sell for £2m. 


The current Duke hopes to use the money he raises from this sale to pay a substantial repair bill following the collapse of homes in Newburn when a culvert collapsed on land owned by the estate.

The money for the repairs was initially found from funds which had previously been set aside for maintenance of the estate’s buildings, and projects.

An estate spokesperson said the sale would “allow for investment in the estates’ long term heritage projects to continue unhindered."


Alnwick Castle ceramics have gone for £1.3m. That should pay for a few new drains in Newburn.


A gloriously over the top figurine has just gone for £320,000 hammer price. Seems to have ruffled a few feathers.


Right, a little mirror is up next. Already at 120,000 pounds. Woman in front row looking dead happy.


This is a bigee. The Stanwick Commode. We're chasing up to £750,000 already hammer price. Cheeky telephone bidder knocked it up to £800,000. It's essentially a lovely wooden looking chest. And it's at £900,000.

How could you have any cash left to put anything in it?!


Wowsers. It's at £1m. Two telephone bidders at WAR!


Bids now exceeding £1.1m...


Here's a glimpse of the frantic phone bidding going on for this coveted chest:


A George II mahogany bookcase goes for £140,000. Card tables now. Duke won't miss them. I know the Duchess like Bejewelled Blitz on the iPad anyway. Flog em.

And they've gone for £170,000...


And here's a £75,000 Chinese vase.


A nice marble bust rocketed up to £400,000. To a very quiet man with specs. Hardly noticed him. And he's shuffled off.



David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer