On Bond Street, above the entrance to Sotheby’s stands the feline-featured figure of the ancient Egyptian goddess, Sekhmet.
Sekhmet was a goddess of healing in the Egyptian pantheon. The goddess is said to have formed the desert with her breath, led Egyptian warriors into battle, and protected the pharaohs.
Based on its style, Sotheby’s Sekhmet dates between 1390 to 1352 BCE, making it the oldest outdoor statue in all of London (Cleopatra’s Needle does predate it but is not considered a sculpture.)
Founded in 1744, Sotheby’s itself is the fourth oldest auction house in the world and has naturally seen many artifacts pass through its halls. However, how this particular ancient icon got adopted by the auction house is the subject of local legend.
It’s said that the piece was auctioned in the late 19th century through Sotheby’s, but the successful bidder never collected their purchase. The price paid at the time was the hefty sum of £40 (equivalent to £5000), though now it is valued at approximately £3.5 million.