Southern Song Guan yao vase headlines at Sotheby's

A Southern Song dynasty (AD 1127-1279) Guan yao vase has sold for $14.7m in a major sale at Sotheby's Hong Kong.

The lot crossed the block as part of the catalogue of an important Japanese collector on April 7.

Song Dynasty vase
Collector Liu Yiqian bought the vase for his Long Museum

Sotheby's comments: "Guan yao, the fabled 'official ware' specially created for the imperial court of the Southern Song in Hangzhou in south China, is perhaps the most desirable and certainly one of the rarest types of Chinese ceramics.

"Although this crackled bluish-green guan ware became one of China's most widely admired and most avidly imitated ceramic styles, actual examples are exceedingly rare even in the Palace Museums of Taipei and Beijing, since despite the expertise of the craftsmen, a satisfactory outcome was rare even at the time."

The buyer was Liu Yiqian, a prodigious Chinese collector and businessman responsible for setting several records for Chinese works of art at auction in recent years.

Yiqian recently paid $45m for a 600 year old Tibetan thangka, while perhaps most famously he bought a small cup depicting a chicken for $36.3m.

The majority of the pieces are destined for his Long Museum in Shanghai, the world's largest private museum.

Art dealer James Hennessy told Bloomberg: "There was definitely no sign of China's austerity campaign today, but it's not foolish money."

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