The Yongzheng celadon-glazed amphora, which is going to be auctioned at Christie’s Hong Kong spring sales, has become the hot topic in the antique world recently, as many speculate whether its selling price would reach record high again. A source told The Value on Monday, that the estimate of this amphora is HK$120m to 150m, almost 10 times of its record-breaking hammer price 13 years ago. Undoubtedly, the seller has lots of confidence, if not too much of it.
While deciding the estimate for a lot, its hammer price in past auctions is an important reference. Setting the right estimate, the auction house could spark an intense bidding war, and vice versa. The current amphora went under hammer at Christie’s twice, first time in 1999 New York spring sales, ranked as “Fine and Rare”by the auction house, sold for US$442,550 (with buyer’s premium) against pre-sale estimate of US$120,000 to 180,000. It was bought by Chong-Moon Lee, the major benefactor of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
5 years later, this amphora went under hammer at Hong Kong autumn sales, officially ranked as “Fine and Very Rare”this time. The estimate was HK$5.5m to 6.5m, just twice of its hammer price in 1999. It was sold for HK$17,423,750 (with buyer’s premium) at last, set the world record price for a Qing monochrome porcelain at that time. According to an interview with Giuseppe Eskenazi, the renowned dealer, the amphora was bought by property tycoon Alan Chuang.
This year, the amphora will be offered as a single lot stand-alone sale, while its official ranking has raised to “Magnificent”. It’s estimate of HK$120m to 150m is 8 to 10 times of the hammer price in 2004, this kind of skyrocketing rise is extremely rare. Normally, the auction house would propose the estimate, and the seller would agree with it. Yet, some sellers have much self-confidence, hence setting the estimate by themselves.
A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE UNDERGLAZE-BLUE AMPHORA-FORM VASE
Similar amphoras are not easily seen at auctions. In 2009, an underglaze-blue amphora of Qianlong period went under hammer at Christie’s Hong Kong spring sales, with similar shape and decoration like the tear-shaped appliques as the Yongzheng amphora. This Qianlong amphora, which also has a six-character seal mark, is smaller in size (32.4cm tall), compared to the Yongzheng amphora, yet its “Magnificent and Very Rare” ranking is higher. It was sold for HK$29,780,000 (with buyer’s premium) at last.
A Magnificent Imperial Tang-Style Celadon-Glazed Amphora, Yongzheng Mark And Of the Period (1723-1735)
Auction House: Christie's Hong Kong
Sale: The Yongzheng Emperor’s Double-Dragon Amphora
Christie's New York, 22th March 1999, Lot 331. (US$442,550)
Christie's Hong Kong, 1st November 2004, Lot 872. (HK$17,423,750)
Estimate: HK$120,000,000 - 150,000,000