San Francisco — A magnificent blue and white porcelain vase, dating to the Yongzheng period (1723-1735), sold in the auction room today at Bonhams in San Francisco for more than $5.9 million, against multiple phone bidders from Mainland China. The vase, offered on behalf of a California institution, was part of the bequest of Chinese porcelains by former First Lady Lou Henry Hoover, who began acquiring blue and white porcelains while living in London in the first two decades of the 20th century.
Estimated conservatively at $500,000-700,000, the bidding began slowly among multiple telephone bidders and built to a crescendo, with the ultimate buyer entering the competition at the $3 million mark. This buyer was Richard Littleton of Littleton and Hennessy, an Asian Art advisory group based in the US, London and Hong Kong. From then on, the bidding escalated quickly as a battle between the room and the telephone, with the floor bidder, Mr. Littleton, victorious.
Dessa Goddard, Director of Asian Art for Bonhams North America stated, “We are thrilled to have had the privilege of bringing this magnificent piece to the market from the collection of a great public servant and humanitarian, who loved Chinese blue and white porcelain. Blue and white vases of tianshouping shape from the Yongzheng period are so very rare; this particular example may be the only one of its type with classic wave pattern on the shoulder and rim.”