An 8.2-centimeter-tall porcelain cup from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) fetched a staggering HK$281.24 million ($36 million) at an auction in Hong Kong on Tuesday, setting a new record for Chinese porcelain at auction.
Shanghai billionaire Liu Yiqian won the bidding via a telephone consignment.
The cup, which is in pristine condition, was made using the doucai method of fashioning porcelain that began during the Ming Dynasty, and was used for appreciation, not for display. It is commonly known as a "chicken cup" because it is decorated with paintings of chickens.
The cup celebrates the pinnacle of the Chenghua style of porcelain-making from 1465 to 1487. Well-preserved examples from that period are rare.
"There is nothing rarer in Chinese porcelain than a Chenghua chicken cup. There are less than 20 genuine ones in the world," said Giuseppe Eskenazi, a London dealer of Chinese antiques who once owned the cup and made unsuccessful bids on Tuesday.
Only four Chenghua chicken cups, including the one sold in Hong Kong, are owned privately. Others belong to public museums including the British Museum, the Taipei-based National Palace Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Eskenazi described the cup as a unique opportunity that every serious collector, museum or institution wants to own.
"One thing about the Chenghua porcelain is that it is alive. It's like a living piece of porcelain. When you touch it and feel it, the waxiness, softness and thinness are so unique, it is the only porcelain you can identify blind," he says.
The cup had been in the collections of revered collectors such as Leopold Louis-Dreyfus and Sakamoto Goro. It was sold at a record-breaking price of HK$29 million at a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong in 1999 to the Zuellig family in Switzerland. The chicken cup from Tuesday's auction came from the Zuelligs' Meiyintang Collection.
"Every time a chicken cup appears at auction, it redefines prices in the world of Chinese art. The one sold is one of only three perfect chicken cups ever to come to the market," said Nicolas Chow, international head of Sotheby's Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art.
He said the Chenghua chicken cup is among the most prized items in the history of Chinese art.
《 Ming Dynasty 'chicken cup' sells for record $36 million》出自：天天学英语