£2 million teapot

25th May 2011

A teapot sold at auction at Woolley and Wallis on 18th May for £2 million. It was not, however, just any old teapot. The rare Chinese Imperial White Jade Teapot, dating from 1736-95, attracted buyers from around the world. It was the final lot on the first day of a two day Asian Art sale. The first day of the sale alone achieved £7.5 million (including Buyer's premium).

The teapot, an exceptionally rare and fine example from the Qianlong Period, sold to a telephone bidder from Hong Kong after fierce bidding between the buyer and an underbidder in the room. The same underbidder had already bought the second highest selling lot in the sale, a Chinese white jade conjoined vase and cover dating from the same period (lot 469), which sold for £1.2 million.

The results of the sale exceeded all expectations with highly competitive bidding in the room and on the telephone. The sale opened with a private collection of Yixing teapots which set the tone, achieving more than £1 million for the 121 lots.

Lot 362, a fine Chinese Imperial jade ruyi sceptre, achieved more than £260,000 and Lot 451, a massive Chinese famille rose Baxian or Immortals vase reached £191,000.

This sale also included a rare Chinese Imperial turquoise ground famille rose vase (Lot 450) which had had a somewhat chequered history.  When the owner of the vase was given it, it had some chipping around part of the rim. Not liking the unbalanced effect, the owner took a hammer to the rest of the rim and knocked it off.  In spite of this significant damage, the quality and rarity of the piece was recognised and it achieved £65,000.

At the end of two busy days the total achieved was £8.3 million (£6.9 million hammer price). Head of Asian Art, John Axford, was delighted: "We are thrilled with such a strong result that builds on our record breaking Asian Art sale last November. We are particularly pleased that Asian Art at Woolley and Wallis continues to attract interest from the top international buyers, keeping us firmly on the map as a centre for Asian Art."

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