Autumn Auction News: Wucai Fish Jar from Jiajing Period Estimated at HK$180m

To hype up the battle of autumn auctions, Christie’s made the first move to draw everyone’s attention to a Wucai Fish Jar (Five-colour Fish Jar) from Jiajing period. Being once owned by famous collector J.M Hu (Hu Jenmou), this rare lot is labelled with “estimate on request”. The Value learnt from a reliable source that this fish jar is now tentatively estimated at HK$180 million.

The Wucai Fish Jar originally belonged to J.M Hu, the master of Zande Lou (Studio of Temporary Enjoyment). It was later being sold at Sotheby’s New York twice, in 1985 and in 1992. It caused a great sensation when it went to Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction at “An Extraordinary Collection of Ming and Qing Imperial Porcelain and Works of Art from a Private Trust” in 2000. Estimated at HK$38 million, the fish jar was sold for $44 million with buyer’s premium in the end.

It is said that the fish jar was sold by a Hong Kong tycoon; the buyer was Robert Tsao (as shown in the above image), the-then chairman of UMC in Taiwan. Tsao is a top collector, whose extraordinary collection is described as a mini version of the Palace Museum in Beijing. Le Cong Tang also offered other exquisite items for Christie’s autumn auction, along with the Wucai Fish Jar.

At the spring auction early this year, two major auction houses led the sale by exceptionally rare porcelain that marked as “estimate on request”, and both items were sold for over HK$100 million.

Christie’s leading lot “Yongzheng Emperor's Double -Dragon Amphora”, with a minimum estimate of HK$120 million,  was hammered down at HK$124 million – a total of $140 million with buyer’s premium, setting a new record for a Chinese monochrome porcelain.

On the other side, Sotheby’s Hong Kong presented “Xuande Fish Pond Bowl”, estimated at HK$100 million at the minimum, was hammered down at HK$202 million and sold for HK$292 million, became the second most expensive porcelain of Ming dynasty.

The Wucai Fish Jar, with its original cover attached, is well-preserved in good condition. Given such rarity and its impressive background, the fish jar is expected to outperform the above two pieces in terms of sale.


Wucai Fish Jar and Cover from Ming Dynasty Jiajing Period (1522-1566)

Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Auction date: November 2017
Height: 46cm
Provenance (consolidated by The Value):

  • Collection of J.M Hu’s family
  • Sotheby’s New York, 4 June 1985
  • Sotheby’s New York, 1 December 1992, lot 282
  • Sotheby’s Hong Kong, An Extraordinary Collection of Ming and Qing Imperial Porcelain and Works of Art from a Private Trust, 29 October 2000, lot 18. (HK$44,044,750)
  • Le Cong Tang

Estimate on request (HK$180,000,000, according to The Value’s source)