Chinese imperial gilt bronze bell to make $1.5m?

A rare imperial Chinese gilt bronze ritual bell is to lead an auction at Sotheby's New York.

The lot, which is believed to date to around 1743, is expected to make $1m-1.5m on September 15.

Hearst brass bell
William Randolph Hearst - the inspiration for Citizen Kane - was the former owner of the bell

It was formerly in the personal collection of media magnate US William Randolph Hearst, who bought it in a 1921 auction of stock belonging to Sadajiro Yamanaka.

Yamanaka was a well-known Japanese dealer of Eastern antiquities, who operated around the world.

The auction house explains: "Starting in 1912, Yamanaka sold regularly through the American Art Galleries; many of the sales garnered much attention, with newspapers reporting on the purchases made by many of the most notable collectors and social figures of the time.

"It would be only natural that Hearst would be aware of and inclined to participate in a Yamanaka sale.

"After the bell was purchased by Hearst, it was sent on the 3rd of May 1921, to his extraordinary residence Hearst Castle."

Hearst - the inspiration for Orson Welles' Citizen Kane - was the owner of an almost unimaginably large collection of art and antiquities. Contemporary estimates indicate he was responsible for around 25% of the value of the art market during the 1920s and 1930s.

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