A Chinese ceramic Wucai ‘Fish’ Jar and Cover from the Jiajing period was sold at Christie’s unprecedented evening sale selling Chinese works of art. This blockbuster lot of the autumn sales was hammered down at HK$188m (US$24m), more than four times of HK$44m paid by its owner Robert Tsao (Cao Xingcheng) in 2000.
The Wucai Fish Jar is a magnificent ceramics work from the Jiajing period. It comes along with its original cover, which makes the whole piece even rarer. Though the cover seems relatively small capping on its enormous and bulbous body, together they perfectly bring the fish jar alive and create a vivid image of fish swimming in a tank.
J.M Hu once owned a pair of Wucai Fish Jar. The present lot is the one on the right.
The Wucai Fish Jar originally belonged to J.M Hu, the master of Zande Lou (Studio of Temporary Enjoyment). It caused a great sensation when it went to Sotheby’s Hong Kong at the sale of “An Extraordinary Collection of Ming and Qing Imperial Porcelain and Works of Art from a Private Trust” in 2000. Estimated at HK$38m, the fish jar was sold for HK$44m with buyer’s premium to a prominent collector Robert Tsao.
A few days before the sale, the Value had an interview with Robert Tsao on this treasure of the Eastern Renaissance.
Interview with Robert Tsao on Wucai Fish Jar of the Eastern Renaissance
Exclusive Interview with Cao Xingcheng, the Master of Le Cong Tang
Eric Chang (the middle one) and Rebecca Wei (on the right)
The fish jar was auctioned off at Important Ming Imperial Works of Art from The Le Cong Tang Collection Evening Sale. The bidding started at HK$120m with a bid increment of HK$10m. There were mainly two telephone bidders, respectively represented by Rebecca Wei (President of Christie's Asia) and Eric Chang (Deputy Chairman Asia).
The one standing at the back is Jussi Pylkkanen, Global President of Christie’s.
The bidding went steadily up to HK$180m. Chang then made a higher bid of HK$185m and followed by Wei’s bid of HK$188m. With no further bid, the fish jar was hammered down at HK$188m (US$24m) to Wei’s client.
Blue and White Lobed ‘Fish Pond’ Bowl with Mark and Period of Xuande was sold for HK$229m.
Doucai 'Chicken Cup' with Mark and Period of Chenghua was sold for HK$281m.
The jar was sold for HK$213m with buyer’s premium, becoming the third most expensive ceramic from the Ming dynasty. The most expensive Ming ceramic is a Doucai 'Chicken Cup' from Chenghua period, which was sold to Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian for HK$281m. The second one goes to a Blue and White Lobed ‘Fish Pond’ Bowl from the Xuande period. It was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Spring Sales this year for HK$229m.
A Highly Important and Extremely Rare Wucai ‘Fish’ Jar and Cover.
Jiajing Six-character Mark in Underglaze Blue and of the Period (1522-1566)
Lot no.: 8006
Provenance (consolidated by The Value)
- Collection of J.M Hu’s family
- 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/ US$23,000,000, according to The Value’s source)
Hammer price: HK$188,000,000
Price realized: HK$213,850,000
Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Sale: Important Ming Imperial Works of Art from The Le Cong Tang Collection Evening Sale