Paul Kruger found himself in the middle of a war on Monday night - a bidding war. By the time the gavel fell, the sculpture of the one-time Transvaal president sold for a whopping R10.46m -- four times more than expected.
The price for the bronze by renowned South African sculptor Anton van Wouw smashed world records for works by the artist and the price for any South African sculpture. The work is the maquette of the famous statue of Paul Kruger that stands at the centre of Church Square in Pretoria today. The sculpture features the Boer president in top hat, presidential sash and trademark beard.
And while the bronze in Church Square, sculpted in 1896, has remained steadfast on public display for decades, it's the maquette that has had a quirkier back story.
To begin with, art specialist Dr Alaistair Meredith of auction house Strauss & Co, which facilitated the sale, says the piece is unique and has glowing provenance. He also says it was highly prized by Van Wouw collectors, all of which added to the buzz around the sculpture before it went under the hammer at the Wanderers Club.
"The piece will remain in South Africa....