"Copied" Chinese Wucai Jar at auction sets £810,000 house record

A small auction in UK has raised the eyebrows of local media, as a Chinese wuicai jar was sold for £810,000 – 450 times of its £1,800 guide price, breaking all house records in auctioneer Fellows’ 140 years history.

The wucai jar is of broad shouldered form, the body rising to a short neck with lipped rim, bottom marked the inscriptions of Dai Ming Jiajing Nian Zhi (meaning made during Jiajing period in the Ming Dynasty), painted with golden carp, lotus and aquatic plants. This lot is named “Chinese Porcelain Wucai Fish Vase” by the auction house, yet jars of same type and style are usually named as “Jiajing Wucai ‘Fish’ Jar”. Two of such jars are preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing and the National Museum of China. Another one was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2013 for HK$25,880,000 (hammer price with buyer’s premium).

Fellows said, initial research when cataloguing had pointed to a number of historic precedents sold in tens and hundreds of thousands. After examining the decoration to the collar, Fellows felt it lacked sophistication of those early pieces, believed that it was a 20th century copy. Fellows hence set the estimate in £1,200 – 1,800, and let the bedding opened at £1,000, as the Chinese seller wished.

Yet, a number of bidders believed that the jar was a real deal crafted during the reign of Emperor Jiajing (1521-1567), and furious bidding between rival deals and collectors pushed the price through the roof. Finally, a phone bidder secured the lot to a round of applause via his translator, at £810,000, plus 20% buyer’s premium, price realized as £972,000. If you are interested in this wucai jar, please read The Review, as The Value’s expert would compare it with the one sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.


Lot Details

A large and impressive Chinese porcelain wucai fish vase

Auction House: Fellows
Sale time: 2017/3/27
Lot No.: 136
Height: 36cm
Diameter: 39cm