A new auction high for Chinese porcelain was set last week when Sotheby’s sold a tiny Chenghua period ‘chicken cup’ for a hammer price of HK$250m (£21.5m) as part of their latest Hong Kong sale series.
This beats the previous high of HK$225m (then £18.2m) paid in the same rooms three years ago for a Qianlong famille rose double gourd vase.
The Ming dynasty Chenghua mark and period cup, which measures just 3¼in (8cm) in diameter and is decorated in doucai colours with a continuous frieze of cockerels, hens and chicks divided by flowering plants, is from the Meiyintang collection of Imperial Chinese porcelain after which is it named.
It comes trailing a list of earlier equally celebrated provenances: Mrs Leopold Dreyfus, Edward T Chow (reputedly), Sakamoto Goro and Giuseppe Eskenazi.
Produced in very small quantities and imitated into the early Ching dynasty, these Chenghua cups have been highly prized right from the outset and have been record-breakers at earlier appearances at auction.
The Meiyintang cup itself set a world record for Chinese art 15 years ago when it sold at auction to Eskenazi in the same rooms in 1999 for HK$25.4m (then £2m).
The price on April 8, which was paid by the Shanghai collector Mr Liu Yiqian, represents an approximately ten-fold increase.
The buyer's premium was 25/20/12%.