Thursday - 18 September 2014

Back in business with a £2m treasure

10 December 2012Written by Roland Arkell

Ritchies, the Toronto auction house founded in 1967 and declared bankrupt in 2009, are trading again. And in spectacular style.

The new-look firm retains the name of 'Canada's premier auction house' but is, in effect, a different company. Businessmen Kashif Khan and his partner Ravi Poddar announced their purchase of the Ritchies name from the trustee in bankruptcy in October 2011.

Their 180-lot November 25 sale of Asian art was enlivened by the remarkable competition between two overseas buyers for the Qianlong mark and period blue and white meiping,shown here.

It was consigned for sale by members of the Manchu Aisin Gioro family, who - as descendants of the last Qing emperor - maintain a low profile in Thailand, said Jackie Kung, Ritchies' Asian specialist.

The classic Ming-style 'heaping and piling' decoration bears many similarities to the Yongzheng (1722-35) bottle vase recently sold by Tennants in Leyburn for £2.6m.

It has been suggested that the iconography of Ritchies' vase - three five-clawed dragons, one three-claw dragon - indicates it was made in the third year of the reign of the emperor Qianlong (1735-96) out of reverence for his father. According to Chinese Imperial tradition, three years was symbolic of the time in which Chinese emperors kept the ruling traditions of their predecessors alive.

Ritchies estimated their 13½in (34.5cm) high vase at $180,000-300,000. The final selling price of Can$3m (£2m) bettered the Can$1.9m (£1.27m) the auctioneers took for a rare tuotai cup in June.

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