Wed, Oct 04, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Chinese bowl sells for record US$37.7 million


Sotheby’s Asia deputy chairman Nicolas Chow holds a Ru Guanyao brush washer bowl from China’s Song Dynasty during a press conference after its record-breaking sale for US$37.7 million in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: AFP

A 1,000-year-old Song Dynasty bowl yesterday sold for US$37.7 million in Hong Kong, breaking the record for Chinese ceramics, auction house Sotheby’s said.

The small piece — which dates from 960 to 1127 — stole the previous record of US$36.05 million set in 2014 for a Ming Dynasty wine cup, which was snapped up by a Shanghai tycoon famous for making eye-watering bids.

The person behind yesterday’s winning offer wished to remain anonymous, Sotheby’s said, with the auction house declining to say whether the buyer hailed from the Chinese mainland.

“It’s a totally new benchmark for Chinese ceramics and we’ve made history with this piece today,” Sotheby’s Asia deputy chairman Nicolas Chow (仇國仕) told reporters.

Bidding started at about US$10.2 million, with the suspense-filled auction lasting some 20 minutes as a handful of phone bidders and one person in the room competed with each other. The winning offer eventually came from one of the phone bidders and was received by a round of applause.

The Ru Guanyao bowl — originally designed to wash brushes — is an example of extremely rare Chinese porcelain from the imperial court of the Northern Song Dynasty and one of only four such pieces in private hands, Sotheby’s said.

Measuring 13cm in diameter, the dish features a luminous blue glaze.

The price tag exceeds the earlier record made by a tiny white piece known as the Chicken Cup, decorated with a color painting of a rooster and a hen tending to their chicks, and created during the reign of Emperor Chenghua between 1465 and 1487.

That cup sold in 2014 to taxi-driver-turned-financier Liu Yiqian (劉益謙), one of China’s wealthiest people and among a new class of Chinese super-rich scouring the globe for artwork and antiquities.

He famously drank tea from the dainty vessel after his purchase, causing something of a social media meltdown in China at the time.

In recent years Liu, who has built his own museum in Shanghai, has made a series of record-breaking bids and has become the highest-profile art collector in China.

More recently he has turned to acquiring Western masterpieces. In 2015, he bought Modigliani’s Nu Couche for more than US$170 million at Christie’s in what was then the second-highest price ever paid at auction for a work of art.

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