A lost cultural relic from China’s Yuanmingyuan Imperial Garden was auctioned and sold for over 74 million yuan ($12.06 million) at a Sotheby’s autumn sale in Hong Kong on October 8, the sixth highest price among auctions of lost relics from Yuanmingyuan Garden.
The pot with relief of dragon designs and lavender grey glaze from the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty was a highlight of the auction. It has a Chinese signature on its bottom that translates as “Made in Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty”.
According to the newspaper Beijing Youth Daily, an expert, Liu Yang, from the Yuanmingyuan Academic Committee, said the pot was recognized as a lost relic from Yuanmingyuan because of the Chinese written character “放山居”（Fonthill House）643” at its bottom. In 1861, Alfred Morison bought many collections from Yuanmingyuan from a secretary of a British minister, and then posted the signature “Fonthill” and serial numbers on the bottoms of these relics and displayed them in his Fonthill House.
According to Liu Yang, the relic was first auctioned at London Christie’s in 1971 after leaving Fonthill House. In 1988, it was auctioned again at Christie’s in Hong Kong and since then, it hasn’t shown up until being sold for the third time at this auction.
Among the auctions of lost relics from Yuanmingyuan, the price of this pot ranks sixth. So far, the highest price for a Yuanmingyuan relic is a long-neck gourd bottle, which is also from the collection at Fonthill House.