$37.7 million bowl sets Chinese porcelain auction record

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A 1,000-year-old bowl from China’s Song Dynasty sold for US$37.7 million in Hong Kong on Oct. 3, breaking the record for Chinese ceramics, auction house Sotheby’s said.

The small piece, which dates from 960-1127, stole the previous record of $36.05 million set in 2014 for a Ming Dynasty wine cup which was snapped up by a Shanghai tycoon famous for making eye-watering bids.

The person behind the winning offer wished to remain anonymous, Sotheby’s said, with the auction house declining to say whether the buyer hailed from the Chinese mainland or not.

“It’s a totally new benchmark for Chinese ceramics and we’ve made history with this piece today,” Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said. Bidding started at around US$10.2 million with the suspense-filled auction lasting some 20 minutes as a handful of phone bidders and one person in the room itself competed with each other.

The bowl, originally designed to wash brushes, is an example of extremely rare Chinese porcelain from the imperial court of the Northern Song Dynasty and one of only four such pieces in private hands, according to Sotheby’s. Measuring 13cm in diameter, the dish features a luminous blue glaze.

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