Only one similar vase sharing the unusual iron-red decoration of ascending and descending dragons linked by their tails or claws is known. That example, bearing a six-character Yongzheng mark, sold back in 1977 and is illustrated in the 2012 book A Dealer’s Hand. The Chinese Art World Through the Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi.
As this vase had been sent for sale from outside the US it was subject to an import tariff of 7.5% of the value declared on entry into the US. With the estimate set at a relatively modest $12,000-15,000 that was $1012.50.
In fact, the meiping (in fair condition with some grinding to the rim) sold at $260,000 (£240,000) or $327,600 including the 26% buyer’s premium at Sotheby's.
Doing the maths, it would have incurred a tax of $24,570 had the levy been charged on the purchase price.
As part of an ongoing trade war with China, certain Chinese goods, including works of art, are (since September 2020) taxed on entry to the US, regardless of the port of origin.
When an item is consigned to auction, the fee, plus any applicable local sale taxes, will be included on a payment invoice unless the buyer instructs the auction house to arrange shipping of the lot to a foreign address.
The Sotheby's sale took place on September 21.
Christie’s posted the largest numbers of the September ‘Asia Week’ sales in New York.
Leading its offering of Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on September 22-23 was a pair of late Ming huanghuali drum stools that took 10 times the low estimate at $1.2m ($1.5m including premium).