Record-breaking imperial Chinese bowl shines at Hong Kong sale

Mon Apr 8, 2013 7:05am EDT
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By Grace Li

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A red bowl with a lotus pattern broke the world record for Chinese Kangxi ceramics on Monday, fetching over $9 million after a bidding war won by a Hong Kong ceramics dealer at the last day of spring sales for global auctioneer Sotheby's.

The five days of sales in wine, jewelry, Asian and Chinese art, ceramics and watches, an indicator of China's appetite for luxury goods, are being keenly watched after sluggish economic growth in 2012 and a crackdown on lavish official spending.

The Ruby-Ground Double-Lotus "falangcai" bowl from the Kangxi period of 1662-1722 went for HK$74 million ($9.5 million), handily beating pre-sale estimates of HK$70 million and selling for more than 140 times the price paid three decades ago in a sign of surging demand.

More than 400 customers turned up for the auction of 57 ceramic pieces in the morning session, with several rows of people packed into the back of the auction room and telephone lines busy with bidders. The bowl ultimately went to Hong Kong ceramics dealer William Chak.

"Of course, at the very, very top of the market, you do have lots of participation from overseas and other parts of Greater China," said Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's Asia and International Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art.

"But in terms of quantity, the largest quantity of objects traded today of Chinese art go back towards the mainland."

The red bowl with a design of pink and blue lotuses sold for HK$528,000 the first time it went under the hammer at Sotheby's in 1983. In 1999, it fetched HK$12 million.

A mainland collector who gave his name only as Ren and was bidding for a friend said demand for Chinese ceramics was growing among mainland buyers.   Continued...

A magnificent Ruby-Ground Falangcai "Double-Lotus" Bowl Blue Enamel Yuzhi Mark and Period of Kangxi is shown after Hong Kong Chinese ceramics dealer William Chak has bought it for HK$74 million ($9.5 million) at Sotheby's Spring Sales in Hong Kong April 8, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip