NEW YORK (AP) _ A towering Egyptian granite sculpture of the goddess Sekhmet, which dates back 3,300 years and was most recently owned by John Lennon, sold for a record $742,500 at auction Friday, Sotheby's auction house said.

A private American collector purchased the 82 1/2 -inch piece, the largest and only virtually complete Egyptian sculpture to appear at auction in recent memory, said Richard Kersey, Sotheby's expert in charge of antiquities.

It was the highest price ever paid for an Egyptian piece, he said. It was sold by the former Beatle's estate.

The 14th century B.C. sculpture of a lioness' head on a woman's body, seated on a throne with two small columns in front, had been expected to sell for about $500,000, he said.

''There are hardly any Egyptian pieces left in private hands. Virtually everything has gone into museums, which adds to the value of this beautiful piece,'' said Kersey.

Lennon purchased the statue during the 1970s. Sekhmet was the destroyer of enemies of the sun and the king, and at least 500 statues of the goddess adorned the court of Amenhotep III in the 14th century B.C.