Chicken Cup sells at Sotheby’s for $36 million
A tiny porcelain cup from the Ming dynasty has set a new record at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, fetching $36m (£21.5m) at auction. Those gathered in the auction house broke into a round of applause as the hammer fell in the single-lot sale. It seems regardless of economic crisis, collectors are willing to pay what it takes to have a rare piece of history.
The previous record for porcelain was set in 2010 when a gourd-shaped Qianlong vase sold for $32.4m (£19.3m). The ‘chicken cup‘, so-called because it is decorated with a cockerel and hen tending to their chicks, is one of only 17 in the world. The 500 year old treasure which measures just 3.1 inches in diameter (8cm), was made during the reign of the Chenghua Emperor (1465 to 1487).
The reported buyer is Liu Yiqian, an idiosyncratic Shanghai art collector and the 200th richest person in China. It is the first Chicken cup to return to China, with the other 16 scattered around the globe, four in private collections and the remainder in museums. It is likely to be displayed at Liu’s museum in Shanghai, the Long Museum. which opened in 2012.
Nicholas Chow, Sotheby’s deputy chairman for Asia said “There’s no more legendary object in the history of Chinese porcelain…This is really the holy grail when it comes to Chinese art.”