LONDON  - A bronze cast from Joseph Stalin's death mask, one of only 12 made after the Soviet dictator's death in 1953, was sold in Britain on Tuesday for £4,400 ($6,860, 5,280 euros), the auction house said. The mask and accompanying bronze casts of Stalin's hands - the left one withered - had been estimated to sell at between £3,000 and £5,000. The final price of £4,400 includes the buyer's premium, Mullock's auctioneers said. "It's an interesting and unusual item. There were lots of telephone bids and Internet interest," said Richard Westwood-Brookes, historical documents expert at Mullock's, adding that it went to a private telephone bidder in Britain.

Originally brought to the West by art dealer James Birch, who purchased it in Moscow in 1990, the bronze death mask shows Stalin's hair swept back from his forehead and clearly outlines his famous moustache.

Ten of the bronzes made after the dictator's death are thought to be in Russia, with the 11th held in a private collection in London following its sale at Sotheby's auction house in the early 1990s, Westwood-Brookes said.