The Economist pays close attention to Bonham’s sale of Chinese Works of Art, particularly the jade pieces once owned by Jack Rose:
As many as 200 people filled the New Bond Street saleroom at Bonhams, well over half of them Chinese. Priscilla Chak, the wife of Hong Kong’s leading dealer, William Chak, sat directly in front of the auctioneer. A smattering of Westerners, including Roger Keverne, one of London’s leading dealers in Chinese porcelain and fine art, and both James Hennessy and Richard Littleton (of Littleton and Hennessy, London and New York), were also there.
Bidding on the first lot, a small Ming carving of two ducks with russet-coloured wings, set the pace. Estimated at a maximum of £2,000 ($2,900), they sold to Mrs Chak for £19,200 (including commission and taxes). The fourth lot, a 16.6cm brushpot carved as a standing duck, also made clever use of jade’s colour gradations; its pale feet and underbelly contrasted nicely with its brown head and wings. Bidding opened at £4,000. When a new buyer joined the fray at £55,000, his impatient rivals began ramping up the price faster than the auctioneer. Estimated at £6,000, the duck sold in the end for £156,000. Another rare yellow-and-brown carving from the Qianlong period, estimated to fetch £18,000-22,000, sold for £228,000.
But it was the white jade that sparked the day’s real excitement. In particular lot 21, a delicate vase carved into a flattened shape just over 21cm high, was estimated to fetch £30,000-40,000. Bidding quickly rose in increments of £5,000, but even the auctioneer, Colin Sheaf, was astonished when a representative from Christie’s, a rival house, standing at the back of the room topped a £50,000 by shouting “£100,000”. At £300,000, it was still a three-way race. When the hammer came down in favour of a dealer from Ningbo in Cixi province in the room for £580,000, everyone broke out into applause.
White Hot (Economist)