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Cast in leaded bronze with two vertical incisions between the eyebrows inlaid with iron, it would have held a place of honour on an altar in the palace of the kingdom of Benin (in present-day Nigeria), during the 16th century.

In association with Entwistle, tribal art dealers in London and Paris, it was later sold to a private collector for what W&W chairman Paul Viney told ATG was a “substantial seven-figure sum which we believe to be a record price for any Benin work of art”.

Given the political sensitivities surrounding the sale of Benin artefacts, they rarely come to auction.

The auction record for a Benin bronze was set in 2007 when Sotheby’s New York sold a head of an oba dated c.1575-1625, deaccessioned from the Albright- Knox Art Gallery of Buffalo, New York, for a premium-inclusive $4.74m.