The rich Chinese are increasingly investing in art and despite a slowing economy they are the largest spenders at auctions in Hong Kong. Just last week in a Hong Kong auction a rare Ming Dynasty cup created a new record for Chinese porcelain by fetching $36 million. The cup in question is considered the ‘holy grail’ of China’s art world. Called the chicken cup because the painting on the exterior of the cup depicts a rooster and hen tending to their chicks, it is small when compared to its whopping valuation. The cup has a diameter of only 8 centimeters but is more than 500 years old.
The Cup Was Made During Ming Dynasty’s Reign
Liu Yiqian, a Chinese millionaire who is reported to be worth $900 million and who is considered to be the 200th richest man in the country, won the prestigious bid. Sotheby’s who conducted the auction confirmed that there are only 17 similar cups in existence. Only four of them are in private hands and the rest with museums. The cups were made during the reign of the Ming Dynasty’s Chenghua Emperor, who ruled from 1465 to 1487. Nicholas Chow, Sotheby’s deputy chairman for Asia believes that there’s no more legendary objects in the history of Chinese porcelain and that’s why the valuation of the cup has gone so high.
Previous Record Set in 2010 Was $32.4 Million
Only a handful of wealthy collectors had gathered to bid for the rare cup. The hammer went down at the winning bid of HK$250 million ($32.2 million). After adding the auctioneer’s commission the price of the prized item went up to HK$281.2 million ($36.1 million) which was close to the pre sale estimate of HK$300 million. The previous record for Chinese porcelain was $32.4 million which was set in 2010 when a gourd-shaped Qianlong vase fetched the amount in an auction. Evidently the mood in Asia is buoyant and is not affected by the fluctuating economic scenario. The cup is likely to find a place of pride in Liu’s Long Museum in Shanghai.