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Vividly painted in rich cobalt blue, the vase depicted a tumultuous scene: four furiously writhing dragons (a curious mixture of three- and five-claw beasts) between crashing wave and lappet borders on a meandering floral ground.

Previously sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 1993, for a premium-inclusive HK$3.98m, the increase in demand, coupled with a decrease in supply for such fine quality Qing porcelain, saw it contested by London-based Richard Littleton of Oriental Arts (UK) Ltd to HK$11.5m (£1,076,780) – underbid by Hong Kong dealer William Chak. The sale totalled HK$73,656,000 (£6,896,630).