Collection of treasures from Highland castle sells for more than £1million

Carbisdale Castle

A treasured collection of Italian marble sculptures and old masters’ paintings from a Highland castle have sold at auction for more than £1million.

The amazing collection from Carbisdale Collection was sold as part of a record breaking sale of 19th and 20th century sculptures at Sotheby’s in London.

The Carbisdale Castle lots fetched a combined £1,003,939, having been estimated by the auction house at a value of around £500,000.

The overall sale brought in £2,309,064 – a record total for Sotheby’s.

The castle, which is near Bonar Bridge and overlooks the Kyle of Sutherland, has been operated by the Scottish Youth Hostels Association (SYHA) since 1945.

It has been disused since 2010 and is currently in the process of being sold, with a group of investors pledging to turn the former youth hostel into the “most desirable luxury hotel in Scotland”.

The majority of the items were sold to private collectors, with many lots resulting in record auction prices for the artists.

A piece by Belgian sculptor Guillaume Geefs’ marble Le Lion Amoureux (The Lion in Love) fetched the highest price.

It sold to a European private collector for £131,000 – a record for the artist at auction and well above its estimate of somewhere between £60,000 and £80,000.

Many other items sold higher than their estimates, including 19th century Frenchman Jean-Paul-Baptiste Gasq’s The Kiss, which was estimated at between £18,000 to £25,000.

It was eventually sold for £100,000 to a UK-based private collector, another record auction price for the artist.

Another significant price was achieved by Florentine sculptor Pasquale Romanelli, whose sculpture Andromeda, depicting the maiden in the midst of her peril from a sea monster. It fetched the second highest price at £125,000, going to an Asian collector.

In total, the collection included 36 Italian and Scottish 19th century paintings – most of which are quality copies of old masters – as well as a 19th century textile and the 17 sculptures.

A spokeswoman for the SYHA said they were “pleased with outcome” of the sale and pledged to reinvest the money raised back into their facilities.

She said: “The collection raised £1,003,939 and, after tax and costs, SYHA expects to receive in the region of £600,000.

“The proceeds of the sale will be used to sustain SYHA’s diverse youth hostel network of affordable fit-for-purpose accommodation, allowing everyone, but especially young people, to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer.”

It is the first time in over a century that the collection from the castle had gone on sale.

The fairytale building was completed in 1917 and is the last castle to be built in Scotland.

Sotheby’s European sculpture specialist Christopher Mason said: “Encompassing the elegant Neoclassicism of the early part of the century to the fantastical Romanticism of the Belle Époque years, the works on offer shine a light not only on collecting tastes at the height of the British Empire, but also on how sculptors of the period created works of astonishing beauty and grace through their masterful handling of marble.”

The castle and the collection was privately-owned until 1945 when it became what is probably Scotland’s grandest youth hostel.

A group of wealthy private investors unveiled plans earlier this month to transform the castle into a £6.5million five-star luxury hotel, a Michelin-starred restaurant and revamped gardens.