An anonymous bidder was so bowled over by this nearly 900-year-old porcelain artefact that he paid HK$294.3 million (S$51.6 million) for it at a Sotheby's sale in Hong Kong yesterday, smashing the world auction record for Chinese ceramics in the process.
The 13cm bowl, originally designed for washing brushes, was fired in the famed Northern Song Dynasty kilns in Ruzhou, and dates back to a period from 960 to 1127. Such "Ru guanyao" wares - known for their intense blue-green glaze and "ice-crackle" pattern - are extremely rare because the kilns in China's central Henan province had a brief production run of only about two decades.
In fact, the bowl, from the Chang Foundation in Taiwan's Hongxi Museum, is one of only four known pieces of Ru heirlooms in private hands. Since 1940, no more than six Ru vessels have ever appeared at an auction, according to ceramics expert Regina Krahl.
Yesterday's auction broke the previous record, also set in a sale in Hong Kong, when a 500-year-old imperial wine cup from the Ming Dynasty's Chenghua period sold for HK$281.2 million in 2014.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE