Bungalow 'doorstep' sells for £500,000

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An ancient moss-covered stone used as a bungalow doorstep has astounded its owners by selling for more than £500,000. The eight-foot Buddhist relic - previously valued at £30,000 - had previously been rejected by Sotheby's and the BBC Antique's Roadshow.

In fact, the artefact, nicknamed 'The Pebble' by its owners', was a Buddhist temple step thought to be up to 1,300 years old.


Half a mill

Ex owner Bronwen Hickmott originally inherited the three quarter tonne granite lump from her parents - who had themselves been gifted it it by a returning tea planter from Sri Lanka - deploying it for doorstep duty at her bungalow home in Exeter, Devon.

Pre-auction estimates for the ancient Sri Lankan artefact - a moon-stone, in fact - originally came in at around the £30,000-£50,000 mark. But bidding was strong and the stone ultimately fetched £553,250. In fact, Hickmott - who'd spent 10 years trying to interest auction houses in the relic - was amazed when bidding hit more than £40,00.

"When it reached more than £40,000," she told the Sun, "my jaw dropped to the floor. We are just overwhelmed."

No clue

"We did not have a clue what 'The Pebble' would sell for," Hickmott also told the Mail. "It was very exciting and as the amount increased we were left speechless and holding our breath. I have loved 'The Pebble' virtually all my life. I always knew it was something special - but never knew how special."

Such sales are rare of course. This moonstone, called a sandakada pahana, is thought to be have been created during the ancient Anuradhapura Kingdom; they were usually placed at entrances to Buddhist temples.

A bigger sale was made recently at a Sotheby's auction in London. Art detailer Giuseppe Eskenazi paid $2.225m for a rare Chinese bowl - thought to date from the Northern Song Dynasty - despite it earlier being bought for just $3 at a yard sale.

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