Searles Castle lions

Two white lions guard the entrance to the Searles Castle in Great Barrington. Originally, when it was owned by Edward and Mary Searles, two marble sphinxes stood guard. The lions are being auctioned Sunday. And Wednesday, artist Hunt Slonem confirmed that he had purchased the 1880s-built castle.

GREAT BARRINGTON — The artist Hunt Slonem paid $3.25 million for Searles Castle, according to the Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds, which recorded the sale Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the castle's iconic marble lions that guarded the entrance are to be auctioned at State Line Auctions & Estate Services in Canaan, Conn. The value of the pair of large cats is estimated between $3,000 to $5,000, according to State Line's website.

It's unclear whether the former owners of the castle, Educational Consultants, or Slonem placed the lions up for auction. 

Slonem, a painter and sculptor who also collects grand estates as canvases for his artistic vision, said Wednesday that he loves the 1880s-built castle and hopes to become part of its history. 

The castle was the former home of the John Dewey Academy, whose owner decided to close last month after allegations of past abuse hit the boarding school earlier this year.

It was built by Mark Hopkins, one of the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad. His widow Mary Hopkins married Edward Searles, their interior designer, and he maintained the castle until his death in 1920.

The town assessed the property this year at $8 million — $7.7 million for the castle and $326,000 for the 60 acres. In 2007, it was for sale for $15 million.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or 413-329-6871. On Twitter @BE_hbellow.