The Guennol Lioness


The tiny Guennol Lioness was sold at Sotheby’s antiquities auction the first week of December by one private collector to another, with reports referencing but not naming a British archaelogist as the person who paid more than $57 million for this piece found near Baghdad and believed to have been made in Elam, what is now Iran, in about 3000 B.C.

Certainly there will be whines and complaints if the lioness is not displayed in public (she had been on view at a museum in Brooklyn), but it’s hard to imagine who in the world will be sympathetic to these gripes as the Axis Against Evil continues to park its tanks and bombs atop whatever other treasures may reside in the rubble of the library and other sites in the Cradle of Civilzation.

I wouldn’t blame the new owner for keeping the Guennol Lioness in a quiet, private place. She is an amazing creature and it’s enough for her to be safe and protected.


  1. Thanks for posting the pictures of the object in the round. Did you know where the lioness now is?

    1. Thank you for the question. I looked around and couldn’t find any new information about where the little lioness is or who has her. I am actually glad you reminded me of this post because I have changed my opinion over this matter; and while I don’t think that museums (especially given what has been revealed this month about Kunstmuseum Basel and Tierschicksale) are the best observers of the provenance of artworks, at least people can see them in public collections. This is a remarkable sculpture with real presence, like the Caryatids or the Nike, and you really have to experience it person to feel its aura. I hope the person who now owns the lioness will eventually recognize this. To be clear I am against private ownership of masterpieces; it was just so clear at the time with the massive looting and destruction of the libraries and museums in Iraq that the U.S. couldn’t be trusted as a steward of the ancient world’s treasures.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.