Anonymous Buddhist sutra collection highlights US sale

An anonymous collection of Buddhist sutras proved the surprise highlight of a sale of Chinese art at Sotheby's New York on March 19.

The lot realised $14m, up an impressive 9,250% on a $150,000 estimate.

Buddhist Ming dynasty
The anonymous text was produced during the Ming dynasty

The collection of aphorisms dates to 1414 and is signed Zheng He, but no further information is available. This is only the latest in a string of impressive sales of Chinese art where the true value has gone unspotted by experts in the West.

This was the case back in 2010, when a vase discovered in the attic of a family home during a clearance sold for £53m ($78.2m) at auction - although on this occasion the buyer ultimately refused to pay.

It had been initially valued at £800,000-1.2m ($1.1m-1.7m).

Shitao's Poems, Calligraphy and Landscape also sold well, achieving $3.9m against a $1.5m estimate (up 160%).

Shitao (1642-1707) was a former nobleman who became a Buddhist monk after the fall of the Ming royal dynasty.

Sotheby's explained: "Shitao applied various shades of dry and moist brushstrokes, an elegantly subtle color palette, and an unconventional composition to express his distinctive personality…

"This is unquestionably a rare masterpiece by Shitao."

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