Croydon's Riesco Collection moonflask auctions for $3.6m

A Ming dynasty moonflask has sold as top lot in Christie's auction of the RFA Riesco Collection, an important amassment of Chinese ceramics owned by the London Borough of Croydon.

Ming Dynasty moonflask
The sale has caused controversy among Croydon's more culturally-minded residents, though much of the collection is still on display

The collection went under the hammer in Hong Kong on November 27, as part of a trio of Chinese art sales held by Christie's. The Riesco Collection made $13.2m, with the moonflask realising $3.6m.

The RFA Riesco Collection was formed by businessman Raymond Riesco (1877-1964), and was acquired by the borough after its council purchased his home. Profits from the sale will be invested back into Croydon's cultural infrastructure, and the majority of the collection remains on view at the Riesco Gallery in Croydon Clocktower.

The Ming dynasty (1368-1644) moonflask was created under the Xuande emperor (1399-1435), and bears his mark and that of the period. A fine example, it is well potted and decorated with the yinyang symbol.

Xuande Wanshou Vase
The vase is inscribed with 10,000 Chinese characters

Topping Christie's Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale was a "monumental and extremely rare" wanshou vase, which was estimated at up to $648,000, but soared to $8.3m - an outstanding 1,190% increase.

Dated to the Xangxi period (1662-1722), the piece is inscribed with 10,000 characters in 97 rows, which comprise one wan character and 9,999 shou characters in various forms of script. It projects the message "Countless years of long life without limit".

Overall, the sale was the highest earning for Christie's of the three, with a realisation of $41.3m.

Qianlong dragon vase Chinese ceramic
The five-clawed dragon is the most powerful symbol of imperial majesty in China, frequently used to represent the emperor. This lantern vase made $3.9m.

The third sale, Imperial Chinese Porcelain: Treasure from a Distinguished American Collector, totalled $13.5m, with the top bids seen for a striking apple-green enamelled dragon lantern vase, marked with the six-character seal and mark of the Qianlong period (1736-1795). It sold for $3.9m.

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