It featured in a two-day sale at Castlehyde, the home of dancer and artist Michael Flatley, but was included as an extra lot from another vendor. Its history was, said auctioneer Philip Sheppard, “lost in the mists of time.”
The piece was catalogued simply as ‘Chinese celadon vase of amphora form decorated with scroll handles, seal mark to base’.
Bidding started at just €500, but within minutes had risen to more than €100,000. The winning phone bidder was a Taiwanese collector familiar to the auction house. The buyer’s premium of 25% (which includes VAT) added a further €300,000 to the bill.
Only a handful of vases of this size, form and glaze are known. The ‘double-dragon’ form copies Tang dynasty pottery prototypes, while the bluish-green glaze harks back to the Longquan celadon wares of the Song.
One joined the Cleveland Museum of Art collection in 1944, while two others have appeared for sale in recent years. The example sold at Christie’s New York in 1999 ($442,550 including premium), and again at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2004 (HK$17.4m including premium), reappeared for sale in 2017 to hammer at HK$124m (£12.4m) – a record for any Chinese monochrome. Another with a provenance to Qing Kuan, the most prominent collector of the late Qing period, fetched RMB41.4m (around £4.1m) including premium at Beijing Poly in 2018.
Sheppard’s has plenty of history selling high-priced Chinese works of art, previously hammering a white jade dragon seal for €630,000 (2012) and a Qianlong mark blue and white double gourd vase at €740,000 (2017).