A pair of giant bronze lions in the style of those which famously guard Trafalgar Square has sold at auction for £127,000.
The statues, modelled on the originals designed by artist Sir Edwin Landseer which surround Nelson’s Column, were snapped up by a private UK collector for £100,000 plus premium and VAT in Billingshurst, West Sussex, on Tuesday.
Landseer made his name by creating the four bronze lions on commission for the government in 1858.
At nearly four metres in length and just under two metres tall, they are almost identical in size to their counterparts but were made in the late 20th century for Camden Lock market.
They appeared at Summers Place Auctions alongside the first complete family of prehistoric mammoth skeletons ever to go under the hammer.
But the collection of four Ice Age forms including a one-year-old infant, only the second known complete baby mammoth skeleton in the world, failed to sell for a second time.
The highly-anticipated lot was expected to fetch between £250,000 and £400,000 when it first went on sale but did not meet its reserve.
This time the price for the complete set was dropped to £235,000.
The mother and baby, adult male, and adolescent female were also offered for sale as separate lots.
Museums will now be approached in the hope of finding the mammoth family a home, an auction house spokeswoman said.
She added: “We are indeed surprised that no one wanted to buy the mammoths separately as we had interest in them individually in November when we were trying to sell them as a family.
“We still do think it would be rather sad to separate the family, so we will probably have to approach more museums and potentially help with some crowd funding as we do appreciate museums have
limited annual budget to buy new acquisitions.”
It is unknown exactly how the family died but their remnants were found together during building works near Tomsk, Siberia, in 2002.
Their relatively small frames indicate they lived in poor conditions and most probably died at the end of the Pleistocene period, around 12,000 to 16,000 years ago.