While negotiations continue over completion of the sale of the Qianlong vase sold for £51.6m in November 2010 – the Chinese buyer is apparently balking at paying the auctioneer’s £8.6m premium.
Another piece of Chinese art achieved a stupendous price in New York this week. Sotheby’s had catalogued the decorative famille-rose-and-gold vase as 20th century and estimated it at just $800-$1,200, but seven bidders clearly thought otherwise and it soared to $18m. Sotheby’s is rather over a barrel with this, having to stand by its cataloguing but, presumably, not wanting to declare its buyers misguided. However “For me, the vase is definitely 20th century,” said leading British dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi, noting that this sort of colourful, gold-painted piece is “very much the flavour of the month” with new Chinese money.
Sotheby’s press office describes the sale:
There were seven bidders both in the room and on the telephone, the bidding moved up rapidly and in large increments. The winning bidder was on the telephone and is anonymous.
The vase was catalogued as ‘Probably Republican,’ ie 20th Century, and the estimate reflected this dating. However, there was a healthy debate around the age of the piece and clearly some collectors felt that it was significantly earlier.