I’m a sucker for a good attic-find-rags-to-riches story, plus it’s always kind of crazy when auction houses whose financial interest is in marking things up, get it so wrong so I think you’ll enjoy reading about some of last week’s Chinese antiquity sales. The buyers are mostly Hong Kongers and Chinese and it’s good to see a country buying back what is rightfully their own art and appreciating its own history–rather than just buying European antiquities. But you can’t help but think that for the most part art of this significance in the West is in museums, not wealthy people’s homes.
This vase was estimated at $800, but ended up selling for over $18 million US, in what antique experts are saying may have been the biggest underestimate of all time. The auction catalog dated it to the 20th century, but experts believe it was actually from the 18th century and akin to the $86 million vase I wrote about awhile back.
Sotheby’s declined comment about the two-century-plus gap in dating apart from what the press release stated, that “the estimate reflected this dating” and that “there was a healthy debate surrounding the age of the piece, with a number of collectors clearly feeling it was significantly earlier.”
“Nothing surprises me about the Chinese art market today,” said London-based Chinese art dealer Ben Jannsens, after the extraordinary sale at Sotheby’s. “My hunch is, it would be 18th century.”
An archaistic yellow jade ornament with hinged twin disks from the Qing dynasty sold for $434,500 in the same sale.
Quoted from Art Info’s article. Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.
In a separate auction last week, a giant 18th-century Chinese silk scroll painting of a military troop review sold for $30.8 million, the highest auction price for a Chinese work in France.
The work, found in a Paris attic and sold in Toulouse by auctioneer Marc Labarbe, is one of a series of four works of 17th-century maneuvers that mobilized some 20,000 men.
Both of the artworks were reportedly looted from China’s Forbidden City – the imperial palace – in the 1900s during an invasion by Allied Forces from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, US, Japan, Italy and Austria.
A Hong Kong collector, who asked to remain anonymous, made the winning bid Saturday of euro22,057,000 after a ferocious bidding war with seven others.
Story and picture AP.