How much would pay for a red bowl? What if it had a lotus pattern on it? What if it came from the 1600s? The Ruby-Ground Double-Lotus “falangcai” bowl sold for over $9.5 million at a Sotheby’s Auction this weekend.
According to Reuters, the bowl sparked a bidding war which was ultimately won by Hong Kong ceramics dealer William Chak. The buyer paid HK$74 million (about $9.5 million) for the bowl, beating the pre-sale estimate by about $20 million. The bowl also set a world record for Chinese Kanxi ceramics.
Sotheby’s writes: “This outstanding bowl is the only ever recorded with this design. Thrown and fired by potters at the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen, it was then painted in the Imperial palace workshops in Beijing and fired a second time, to admirable perfection. It is one of the earliest decorated in the newly introduced Western enamelling technique, with a combination of opaque colours contrasting with a bright coloured ground; yet it already displays complete mastery.”
Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and International Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, said that the auction, which involved five days of wine, jewelry, art and ceramic sales in Hong Kong, brought in more than 400 potential bidders.
Chow said: “Of course, at the very, very top of the market, you do have lots of participation from overseas and other parts of Greater China. But in terms of quantity, the largest quantity of objects traded today of Chinese art go back towards the mainland.”
The Ruby-Ground Double-Lotus “falangcai” bowl, which was crafted during the Kangxi period of 1662-1722, was first sold by Sotheby’s in 1983 for $70,000. It was sold again in 1999 for about $1.5 million. Today’s record breaking sale shows that demand for Chinese ceramics is growing at an incredibly fast rate.
Chow said: “That helps draw more people towards Hong Kong and makes Hong Kong an even greater center for the art trade, particularly in this field.”
Surprisingly, this isn’t the only bowl of note to hit the auction block recently. A “Ding” bowl that was purchased at a garage sale recently sold for more than $2.2 million.