Wednesday, October 23, 2013


THIS Roman marble portrait bust of Gaius Caesar, the step-grandson and adopted heir of Augustus Caesar, was sold for £375,000 (over $600,000) at auction in London today ... more than twice the estimated value.

Created just months before Gaius's death in AD 4 and restored in the late 18th Century, the bust is one of a small number that features Gaius with long sideburns and a short beard.

The "long lost bust," which was acquired from a California collector, had been estimated to sell for about $250,000.

The bidding was heightened by mystery surrounding the bust. No one knows its history aside from the fact that it is a genuine bust from the time of Augustus Caesar.

Gaius Caesar and his brother Lucius Caesar were the sons of the Emperor Augustus's only child, Julia, and his close confidant Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.

With no sons of his own, the emperor adopted the brothers in 17 BC, and they were intended as his successors. However, both died young, predeceasing Augustus who died in AD 14.

Gaius died aged 23, months after sustaining a wound at the fall of Artagira in Armenia in AD 3.

Readers of Suetonius and Robert Graves' novel "I, Claudius" will remember that Livia, the wife of Augustus, allegedly poisoned both Gaius and Lucius ... to pave the way for her son Tiberius to become emperor.

Whatever the cause, Augustus was devastated and carried busts of the two youths around with him as he wandered the corridors of the palace, weeping and wailing.

Madeleine Perridge, head of antiquities at Bonhams, told HISTORYEXTRA: "The bust is a beautiful piece with a very sad history.

"It was created just after the death of Lucius, when Gaius was the last grandson and heir remaining.

"It shows a young man with everything ahead of him, but who tragically dies aged just 23, only two years after the death of his younger brother.

"His death was a real destruction of everything Augustus had been working towards, trying to preserve his heritage.

"It tells the story of two lost princes, once presented as heirs who would firm up the dynasty, but then all of a sudden die."

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