Farmer's Chinese ceramics collection sells for £45m at auction
A collection of Chinese ceramics bought by a farmer in the 1950s and 1960s has been sold for £45.8m at auction.
Spanning 1,000 years, the Song, Ming and Qing dynasty porcelain was collected by Roger Pilkington, who lived Aldbourne, Wiltshire.
The items inspired a bidding frenzy and made three times their £14m estimate at Sotheby's in Hong Kong.
One lot, a blue and white Moonflask from the 15th Century, sold for £10.1m, including commissions and taxes.
Nicolas Chow, from Sotheby's Asia, said the late Mr Pilkington had been "one of the most astute collectors of Chinese ceramics of all time" with an "all consuming passion" for the items.
"The collection charts the entire development of Chinese porcelain particularly during the Ming period and contains some extraordinarily rare items," he said.
"The rose water sprinkler, the holy water vessel, for example, is one of only three pieces known in the world - one of which is in the Beijing Palace Museum."
Comprising around 100 lots, Mr Chow said the hammer price had been boosted as "very few people were even aware of the existence of this treasure trove".
"We were taken by surprise. We have never seen such frenzied bidding in an auction room, there were paddles flying in the air and very, very long auction battles on some of the items," he said.
"The fact that this was totally fresh and unseen for the last 50 years is what gave so much energy to the room."
Mr Pilkington was a distant relative of the Lancashire glass-making family of the same name.