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.