Chinese wood sculpture
A Chinese polychrome wood sculpture of a Bodhisattva, Song Dynasty, 11th century that sold for AUS$320,000 (£189,415) at Mossgreen’s sale of the Raphy Star collection in Sydney.

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Raphy Star began collecting in the early 1980s and bought from auctions in London, New York and Paris as well as from leading dealers. “Collecting became something of an addiction,” he once said.

On selling a major tranche of his large collection with Mossgreen this year, Star said: “I'm a collector. The thrill is in the chase. I have been lucky enough to enjoy these pieces for many years but it is time for me to change direction. Life is about chapters, and it is time for a new one in mine. I hope that others will get as much enjoyment out of these pieces as I have.”

Featuring not just Chinese works of art but also Indian Buddhist sculptures and ceramics, the sale was billed as one of the most important collections of Asian art ever to be offered in Australia.

The top lot at the two-part Mossgreen sale on December 11-12 was a Chinese polychrome carved wood sculpture of a Bodhisattva, Song Dynasty (11th century), that overtook an AUS$100,000-150,000 estimate and was knocked down at AUS$320,000 (£189,415).

The 18.5in (47cm) high figure was seated in vajrasana (lotus posture) with the right hand originally holding a flower and the robe falling across the high lotus pedestal. It had provenance to London dealers A.&J.Speelman and sold to an ‘international buyer’ at the Sydney auction.

Another Chinese wooden figure on offer was a Jin/Yuan Dynasty (13th-14th century) sculpture of a Luohan inside which the auctioneers discovered a Ming Dynasty banknote.

Offered together as a single lot at the auction, it sold at AUS38,000, slightly below the $40,000-60,000 estimate.

The buyer’s premium was 24%.