Ming Dynasty manuscripts sell for record-breaking £21.7million at Sotheby's Hong Kong

By Rose Adams | 04 Apr 2018 | Wealth

This Sotheby's auction broke records with two culturally significant Ming and Qing dynasty lots

img tempus
* Two sets of Ming Dynasty Imperial Sutras sold for £21.7 Million at Sotheby's Hong Kong

A pair of Buddhist Sutra Manuscripts from the Ming Dynasty sold for an astonishing £21.7million at Sotheby's Hong Kong on Tuesday 3 April, setting a new world record for a Buddhist manuscript. The lot has been cited as the most important set ever to have appeared at auction. 

Handwritten and illustrated in gold ink on indigo-coloured paper, creating a shiny lacquer-like surface, the historical relic is made up of 10 albums of the Prajnaparamita Sutra (Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom,) and is the only surviving set outside of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Originally recorded in a private Kyoto aristocratic collection in 1917, and later in the collections of Fujio Fujii and Colonel Thomas Phillips III, the manuscripts remained out of sight until the avant-garde Ming exhibition at the British Museum in 2014, and its pristine condition makes it even more exceptional.

Another magnificent lot auctioned this weekend was a Qing Dynasty Gold-Pink Falangcai Bowl – which also sold for £21.7 Million. The opulent pastel-hued artefact was made by Imperial Order for the Kangxi Emperor and was thrown and fired at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen. Its intimate floral detailing was painted at the imperial workshops beyond the walls of the Forbidden City in Beijing, for the Kangxi Emperor’s personal use. The bowl, which once belonged to collector Henry M. Knight, had not been seen on the market for more than 30 years. 

Related: Proof there’s never been a better time to invest in watches

img tempus
* The price set a new world record for a Buddhist manuscript

“We delivered outstanding results for our clients and shareholders this week,” Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith said. “Outstanding prices across different categories coupled with a strong sell-through rate indicate that clients throughout Asia are engaged at every level. The past week of auctions, exhibitions and art fairs has left no doubt of Asia’s central position in the art market.”

“With an overall total that is second only to our 40th anniversary celebrations back in 2013, this is an historic result for both Sotheby’s and the art market in Asia,” CEO of Sotheby’s Asia Kevin Ching also said. “Our strength in both traditional collecting categories as well as innovative and new selling formats position us well to continue to drive the growth of this thriving market.”


img tempus
* The Qing Dynasty Gold-Pink Falangcai Bowl was described as the finest ever example of its type to come to market