Saturday 25th August 2018 - Della Bentham
The missing twin of an 18th Century Qianlong Vase that caused a stir when it went under the hammer in 2010, is to be offered up for auction with Sotheby's Asia.
Everyone loves a good love story, a journey through the ages, a separation through the decade’s only to be reunited, it’s like something out of a movie, right?
Ok, so it’s not a love story as such, but a tale of how two antique vases became separated for many years, but they could be about to be reunited again!
Back in 2010 an 18th Century Qianlong vase went up for auction in Surrey and sold to a Chinese collector for a staggering £43 million! At the time, this was the highest ever price recorded for Chinese art at auction. The vase, however, became the subject of a three-year legal battle, when the winning bidder disputed the eye-watering £8 million in auction fees.
The vase was found gathering dust in the attic of the late Patricia Newman when her sister and her son were sorting through her belongings. According to family legend, the vase had been brought back from China in the 1930s by Patricia’s husband William.
The family selling the vase eventually accepted a private offer from somebody else for £20-£25 million, in a move which must have been upsetting for the vendors. Of course, £20 million is no small amount of money, but at around half the original auction figure, it must have felt like they had been cheated.
This vase had originally been part of a pair, which became separated many, many years ago! Now, with the twin coming onto the market, there is expected to be a bidding war and the pair could potentially be reunited!
The two matching reticulated vases were commissioned in the mid-18th century by the Qianlong Emperor, who ruled China from 1736 until 1795. They were created
under the stewardship of Tang Ying who was the creative supervisor of the Imperial kilns. He introduced revolutionary techniques and took the production of porcelain to new heights.
This vase coming to the market now, known as the Yamanaka vase had been exhibited in New York in 1905, where it was acquired by a Japanese collector in 1924. It then disappeared from public view, until now. The vase offered in 2010, known as the Bainbridge vase had similarly been lost until it was put up for auction 8 years ago.
The Bainbridge vase caused a stir when it was originally offered for auction, and the Yamanaka vase is expected to do the same when it goes under the hammer with Sotheby’s Asia in Hong Kong. Nicholas Chow chairman of Sotheby’s Asia says:
“It is a great privilege for us to offer this Qing reticulated vase from the Imperial collection of the Qianlong Emperor this season,”
“Not only is the vase unique and elaborate in design, it is also in pristine condition. To think, the distance the singularly fragile vase has travelled, and the tumultuous times it has survived, for it to be standing here in front of us today without so much as a crack or a chip, is truly extraordinary.”
Mr Chow said he was shown photos of the Yamanaka vase by a friend when they asked for his thoughts. He recognised it but was aware there were numerous fakes floating around. There was, in his mind only a 1% chance this was the real deal. He went to Japan to view the item and was amazed to find it was the genuine article,
He says, ‘The piece was purchased by a relative in 1924 and has passed down the family to him. The owner is not a collector and not in tune with the market but he is extremely pleased.
'The Bainbridge vase is a great plus. It is probably the most vase in the Chinese art market and people will be fascinated that after all these years, suddenly its pair has appeared on the market.
'We have given it an extremely conservative estimate. By under-pricing an object like this, we hope to get the most competition for it and achieve a greater price.
'I expect it to go for multiple times its lower estimate.'
The vase has been given a rather modest estimate of £7 million but is expected to far exceed this. it's definitely one to watch out for when it goes under the hammer!