LONDON — A watercolor by British painter J.M.W. Turner thought to have been lost and not seen in public for nearly 120 years was sold at auction for nearly $6 million.

"Bamborough Castle" depicts a picturesque stretch of the northeastern English coast. It was last publicly exhibited in 1889. The artwork had been owned for decades by the Vanderbilt family of New York, whose 19th-century shipping and railroad empire made it one of world's wealthiest.

Auction house Sotheby's said frantic phone bidding during a sale Wednesday by four potential buyers drove the cost up to nearly double a pre-sale estimate.