1st Sep 2021 by Colin Vickers
IT TOOK six burly men, three trucks and two full days to shift the life-long collection of the late Denis Warrington-Fry from his old Stanmore home. The 80-year-old pensioner had never married and rarely travelled. Instead, his one true love was a repository of statues, chandeliers, urns and figurines that consumed his energy, and his income, for six decades. The collection was considered remarkable more for its size than its worth. A 64-centimetre-tall figure of the Greek god Zeus. There were classical busts made of plastic, and concrete statues buffed to shine like marble. But the bronze figurine of Zeus that lay among the reproductions is thought to be Renaissance treasure. It was snapped up by an anonymous London buyer at a Sydney auction on Sunday for more than $225,000. "When we finished [bidding] there was a bit of applause and everyone was in shock," he said. "I needed to take a drink of water and compose myself." Mr Warrington-Fry died in July, and how the piece fell into his hands remains a mystery. The former clerk had long been a regular in bric-a-brac shops and antique dealer showrooms across Sydney, filling eight rooms and two hallways with his beloved finds, said a friend, Geoff Northausen. "He spent all his money on his collection. He never travelled to see all the old palaces and museums he loved but he had all the books," Mr Northausen said. "He knew all about the things he was collecting." As his house deteriorated around him, Mr Warrington-Fry grappled with how to pay the bills - unaware he was sitting on a bounty. "There were problems with the house,'' Mr Northausen said. ''It had white ants in the floor [but] he didn't have the money to have it repaired. "It's hard to imagine what he might have done with the money had he known [the figurine] was worth this much." Among those most pleased at the princely sale price will be the estate's three beneficiaries - a carer, a neighbour and his 65-year-old niece, Keryn Dibble. Ms Dibble recalled visiting her uncle's museum-like home. "There were very large statues, very heavy solid furniture, heavy chandeliers. It was cluttered, it was hard to see," she said. "[But] he didn't want to part with any of them." A spokesman for the London art dealers Tomasso Brothers, who unsuccessfully bid for the figurine, believed it was crafted by a European artist working in Italy during the Renaissance and was inspired by ancient Roman and Greek sculpture. But the figurine's extraordinary story may not end there. Asked about its resale value, the spokesman replied: "It has a profit in it, let's put it that way''