Chinese Ru-ware bowl sets $38m auction record in Hong Kong

Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's Asia International, holds a Ru Guanyao Brush Washer from the Northern Song Dynasty in Hong Kong on 3 October 2017.Image copyright EPA
Image caption The dish was originally designed for washing brushes in

A 1,000-year-old bowl from China’s Song Dynasty has sold at auction in Hong Kong for almost US$38m (£28m) – a record for Chinese porcelain.

Sotheby’s, the auction house, said the rare Ru-ware brush-washer sold after 20 minutes of tense bidding from a handful of phone bidders, and one in the room.

The little piece measures 13cm (5in) across and is glazed in a blue-green colour.

The bowl’s buyer has chosen to remain anonymous.

Bidding began at around $10.2m, and the winning offer – from a phone bidder – was greeted with a round of applause.

Sotheby’s head of Chinese Art, Nicolas Chow, called the dish “extraordinarily rare”.

“We didn’t expect quite that price but we knew there was going to be a fight,” he said. “Every time there is a piece of Ru-ware, which is an extremely unusual occurrence, there’s always a battle, because it is the most talked about, the most celebrated of all wares in the history of Chinese ceramics.

“Most forged as well – I mean, I receive almost on a daily basis emails saying: ‘Oh, I’ve got a piece of Ru-ware, etc.’ But actually there are only four pieces of heirloom Ru-ware [that] exist in private hands.”

The bowl’s sale trumped the previous $36m record set in 2014 by a Ming Dynasty wine cup, which was bought by financier Liu Yiqian.

Mr Liu, a one-time taxi driver, is one of China’s wealthiest men – and its most high-profile art collector.

Follow us

Leave a Reply