World's largest meteorite sculpture to sell at Bonhams

Pockets full of Kryptonite

Pockets full of Kryptonite

2015-10-28 09:35:40

The world's largest sculpture carved from a meteorite is heading to auction with Bonhams next month.

The life-sized human skull sculpture is carved from an iron-based meteorite known as Gibeon, one of the rarest types to have fallen to Earth. 

It was created by artist Lee Downey, renowned for his carvings of skulls from unusual materials including woolly mammoth ivory, bowling balls and even a jet plane.

According to Bonhams, the unique artwork "crosses the boundaries between modern art and Natural History and is worthy of inclusion in any important collection".

Gibeon meteorites are known to have originated from an unstable planet that once existed, billions of years ago, between Jupiter and Mars. When the planet broke up, a large fragment of its core spent four billion years hurtling through space, and the intense heat allowed the iron alloys to crystallize in an octahedral structure that cannot be recreated on Earth.

Around 1,000 years ago this fragment entered the Earth's atmosphere, exploding over the Kalahari Desert and creating a meteorite field in Great Namaqualand, Namibia, which was first discovered by the local Nama people.

The meteorite used by Downey originates from that field, and was painstakingly carved, sculpted and then acid-etched to bring its unique structure to the surface.

"By sculpting the skull's undulating curves, and because each crystal reacted uniquely to the acid treatment, Downey brought out features never seen before in Gibeon," said Claudia Florian, Bonhams Co-Consulting Director of Lapidary Works of Art, Specimen Gemstones and Minerals.

"Beneath the triangular geometry on the skull's surface, 'thumbprints' of crystallisation, graphite spots and 'light threads' refracted by the iron nickel layers can be seen for the first time. It's out of this world."

The sculpture will be amongst the star lots of Bonhams' Lapidary Works of Art, Gemstones and Minerals sale in Los Angeles on November 24.


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