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Rare Chinese porcelain Wucai box smashes estimates at Bonhams' Sydney auction
A Chinese wucai box with cover. Sold for AU$ 152,500 inc. premium. Photo: Bonhams.


SYDNEY.- Asian art continues to thrill, with heated bidding for a Chinese Wucai box at Bonhams in Sydney last night pushing the hammer price to more than 50 times its lower estimate.

Intense bidding in the room, on the telephones and on the internet pushed the price of the 16th century porcelain to a whopping $152,500 including buyer’s premium, off an estimate of $3000-$5000. The treasure was secured by an international collector.

The unexpected result comes just two months after Bonhams sold a rare Ming Dynasty porcelain ‘dragon box’ for $146,400, more than 140 times its estimate.

Bonhams’ Asian Art specialist, Yvett Klein, said the Asian market often turned up surprises, as niche collectors battled it out for the most coveted items.

“The Wucai box is superbly decorated inside and out with plants, flowers and dragon motifs,” Ms Klein said.

“But, most importantly, the box bears a Wanli six-character mark on the base, which implies it is imperial porcelain, most likely used in the royal households of Ming Dynasty China.”

Overall, the auction had strong results, with total sales of $506,000, with 77% sold by value and 70% by volume.

Top five results:

• Lot 55, A Chinese wucai box with cover
Sold for AU$ 152,500 inc. premium

• Lot 116, A Chinese carved celadon-jade marriage bowl
Sold for AU$ 18,300 inc. premium

• Lot 149, A Chinese gilded bronze figure of Yamantaka
Sold for AU$ 15,860 inc. premium

• Lot 104, A carved celadon-glaze 'scrolling foliage' yaozhou dish Northern Song dynasty
Sold for AU$ 15,250 inc. premium

• Lot 120, A Chinese carved celadon jade figure group
Sold for AU$ 14,030 inc. premium





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