A miniature porcelain cup dating back to the Ming Dynasty, has sold for £21.5m at an auction in Hong Kong.
Nicholas Chow, Sotheby’s deputy chairman for Asia, laughing hysterically, commented “There’s no more legendary object in the history of Chinese porcelain”, while contemplating the (suspected) 20% commission on the sale.
The buyer, Liu Yiqian, is certainly not one to chicken out of big purchases, with an estimated fortune of £538m, he is the 200th richest person in China. His latest acquisition is just eight centimetres in diameter but 500 years old. The ‘chicken cup’, so-called because it is decorated with a rooster and hen tending to their chicks, was made during the reign of the Ming Dynasty’s Chenghua Emperor, who ruled from 1465 to 1487.
Over the past decade, prices of Chinese art have soared in tandem with the country’s economy, and while the market has moderated since 2011, demand for the highest-quality Chinese art has remained steady. Although, many dealers expected the cup to fetch an even higher price, as it fell just short of its incredible estimate.
For the equivalent £21.5m, Mr Yiqian could have contacted the friendly team of promotions experts at The Mugstore, and purchased approximately 30,000,000 printed Cambridge mugs, rather than his single cup, but there is no accounting for individual taste. If like Mr Yiqian printed bone china is your cup of tea, then The Mugstore has a range of classic and contemporary shapes to suit all artworks.
Ming “chicken cup” bowl