Bunhill: Canford carve-up

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The Independent Online
CANFORD School in Dorset hit the headlines in July when it sold a 3,000-year-old stone carving that was made for the palace of the Assyrian king, Ashurnasirpal II.

The carving had adorned the school tuck shop for years, and no one had even guessed at its provenance.

Before the sale by Christie's in July, the auction house estimated that it would sell for pounds 700,000. In the event it went for considerably more - pounds 7.7m to be precise.

It was purchased by a Japanese religious sect, which gains inspiration from looking at beautiful things.

So what of the money now safely in the Canford coffers? Well, some of it is there, but by no means all of it. For I learn that the sect has been given time to pay and has as yet coughed up only a quarter of the price. 'In round terms, we are receiving an installment each month,' says Commander Michael Chamberlain, the school bursar.

The second tranche was due last Friday, but when we spoke the money was on its way. 'I haven't received confirmation from the bank yet,' he added.

Even though the school is short of the balance, it has nevertheless managed to install a replica of the carving on the tuck shop wall.

'If you ask me it looks much better than the original,' says Chamberlain.