An 18th-century Chinese green jade seal associated with the Qianlong Emperor sold this week at an auction in London for 3.4 million pounds ($5.4 million).
Art collectors of ArtKabinett social network have witnessed skyrocketing prices in Asian antiquities.
Of double-gourd form carved with three dragons, the seal had been housed in the Hall of the Three Rarities (San Xi Tang) at the Forbidden City, Beijing, auction house Bonham's said. It had been offered by a private European collector with an estimate of 1 million pounds to 1.5 million pounds.
The buyer, making telephone bids, was underbid in the room by Taiwan-based dealer Arts of Chen.
Bonham’s 402-lot auction of Chinese works of art and ceramics, was estimated to raise between 8.5 million pounds and 12.7 million pounds.
Chinese Imperial objects with European provenances have been bid up to record levels by Asian collectors in recent years. Slow and non-payment has been an issue at some auctions.
Clare McAndrew’s annual art market report for TEFAF in Maastricht, the CAA has sounded a strong note of caution. After a countrywide survey of 250 auction houses, it found that of purchases above Rmb10m in the sales of autumn 2010, a full 40 per cent had not been paid for by April of the following year.
In other words, close to half of the reported hammer prices turned out not to be real sales at all. The disparity in reporting of such aborted sales may account for the dramatic discrepancies in overall figures.
The Toulouse auctioneer Chassaing-Marambat sold an 18th- century white jade seal associated with the Qianlong Emperor for 3.8 million euros with fees on March 31. A year earlier, it had been bid to 12.4 million euros by an unidentified Chinese client who paid only 2.2 million euros of the auction price.