A ruby-ground falangcai bowl sold for HK$74 million at a Sotheby's auction yesterday, setting a world record for porcelain made in the reign of Emperor Kangxi during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
Ceramics dealer William Chak Kin-man was very happy to win the bowl in a strongly contested auction which attracted more than 10 bids.
"Falangcai has the finest porcelain during the reign of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong. There are many falangcai … wares from the Kangxi period, but this one is more brightly coloured and the contrast and graduation [of the colours] is also very clear," he said. It was flawless, he added.
Nicolas Chow, Sotheby's Asia deputy chairman and international head of Chinese ceramics, said: "This bowl is part of the exquisite group of wares that was enamelled within the imperial workshops in Beijing for the personal use of the emperor.
"There were very few that came out on the market in recent years, and this is the only one that is in absolutely perfect condition," he said.
Chak said that despite strong bids, the price was reasonable and he would consider selling it. He expects the value to double in five years. "If you buy a real piece, its price will never be a bubble … I've been in the market for 40 years," he said.
The falangcai bowl, which was once owned by celebrated antique dealer and collector Robert Chang, was sold for HK$528,000 when it first appeared at auction at Sotheby's Hong Kong in 1983. Chak wanted to buy it in 1999 when it came on the market again, but the price of HK$12 million was more than he could afford then.