Asia-Pacific

Chinese Ming vase smashes auction record in Hong Kong

The head of Sotheby's Chinese Ceramics Department, Nicholas Chow, displaying a Ming Dynasty blue and white vase with fruit sprays
Image caption The Ming vase belongs to a collection of Chinese porcelain gathered together by Swiss tycoons.

A Chinese vase from the early Ming period has been sold for $21.6m (£14m) - a world record at auction for any item of Ming porcelain.

The vase, owned by Swiss tycoons, was bought at Sotheby's Hong Kong by an anonymous telephone bidder.

The blue and white Meiping vase of fruit sprays is estimated to be at least 500 years old.

The Sotheby's Hong Kong sales are seen as key indicators of the strength of the Asian art market.

The vase achieved a record price despite continuing global economic uncertainty, but some other major lots failed to sell.

The vase is part of the Meinyintang collection, Chinese porcelain which has been brought together over nearly half a century by the Swiss Zuellig brothers.

Porcelain from China's Ming dynasty (1368-1644) is older but often less decorative and ornate than Qing (1644-1911) ware.

In recent years Ming porcelain has been less in demand from mainland Chinese buyers, meaning that its prices have not reached anywhere near those of late Qing pieces.

"I think many people were worried what would happen before the sales," said Asian art dealer Nader Rasti.

"But I think they did well considering what's going on...15th Century porcelain has been so cheap for so long, there's a lot of good Ming porcelain that's still undervalued."

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