Here’s how Bonhams’s PR department characterizes the sales:
[A] ‘famille-rose’ enamelled glass ‘European-subject’ snuff bottle made in the Imperial Palace workshops in Beijing during the Emperor Qianlong period (1736-1795) […] carried a pre-sale estimate of HK$4,900,000 – 9,000,000. International bidders […] [drove it] up to a final figure of HK$25.3 million (US$3,328,400; GBP2,108,333), over five times its pre-sale estimate[….] This unique survivor of Imperial craftsmanship sold to an Asian collector who bid on the telephone.
Overall, Bonhams’ Autumn Auctions in Hong Kong achieved a new record high sold total for the company of over HK$240 million, representing an increase of nearly 15% over the record sale in May 2011.
The success of the auctions […] drew heavily on fine private consignments from the US of Chinese paintings, the exceptional HK$18.5 million famille rose vase, and a historical collection of personal hardstone seals which totalled more than HK$7million. Our London office consigned the unique collection of Chinese Yixing Stoneware vessels and scholar objects which totalled HK$38 million[….]
Each section of the four “Chinese Works of Art” auctions saw exceptional prices at the top level. The highlight was of course the world record total not merely for a single Imperial Chinese snuff bottle but also for a single auction of snuff bottles at nearly HK$60 million. The single-owner collection of very specialised Yixing Stoneware from the Hawthorn Collection achieved over HK$38 million, tripling pre-sale expectations, with the highest lot achieving a world record price at HK$8.4 million (estimate HK$800,000 – 1,2,000,000) paid by an Asian private collector against intense competition. The auction of “Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art” from various sources saw an exceptional price paid for an Imperial famille rose dragon-decorated vase, which achieved a new record for Chinese porcelain at Bonhams Hong Kong of HK18.5 million (estimate HK$8 – 12 million).
Concluding the auction series, a fine range of classical and modern Chinese paintings attracted spirited bidding principally from buyers from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. An unusual old collection sourced from Australia included the sale’s most expensive lot, a handscroll in the manner of Huang Gongwang, by the famous late Ming artist Wang Shimin (1592 – 1680), estimated at HK$1 – 2 million, which finally sold to an Asian private collector for HK$11.86 million. The greatest excitement in the sale was generated by lot 713, a private collection of 12 fan paintings of landscapes attributed to Wang Yuanqi (1642 – 1715), offered as a single lot estimated at HK$80,000 – 120,000, which confounded conservative expectations to achieve a final price of HK$10.18 million.