The Chicken Cup
A Shanghai collector bought a rare Ming Dynasty cup that's touted as the "holy grail" of China's art world for $36 million at a Hong Kong auction in 2014, smashing the previous world record price for Chinese porcelain.
Sotheby's said Liu Yiqian was the winning bidder for the small white cup, which measures just 8 centimeters (3.1 Inches) in diameter and is more than 500 years old. The vessel is known as a "chicken cup" because it's decorated with a rooster and hen tending to their chicks.
It was made during the reign of the Ming Dynasty's Chenghua Emperor, who ruled from 1465 to 1487. Sotheby's said there are only 17 such cups in existence, with four in private hands and the rest in museums.
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A rare Chinese bowl bought for about $3 from a yard sale in the U.S. sold for $2.2 million at an auction in New York in 2013.
The bowl, found in New York state, "was bought for a few dollars from a tag sale near the consignor's home in the summer of 2007," said Cecilia Leung of Sotheby's. "At the time, the purchaser had no idea that they had happened upon a 1,000-year-old treasure."
The previous owner displayed the bowl in their living room for several years before they became curious about its origins and had it assessed, Leung said. Sotheby's pre-sale estimates valued the bowl, which measures just five inches in diameter, at between $200,000 to $300,000.
The 'Ding' bowl is an example of Northern Song Dynasty pottery and described by Sotheby's as "remarkable and exceptionally beautiful."
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Sotheby’s auction of Chinese ceramic pieces and artwork has held in Hong Kong in 2013. Among the highlights is a blue and white palace bowl from the Chenghua period in the 15th century, sold for $18 million US dollars.
William Chak, ceramics collector, said, "I think this is one of the best Chenghua palace bowls in the world. One of the best, so it is important. The Chenghua king personally used this bowl, according to the Ming record. So that’s the most important thing."