Chasing the dragon? Chinese collectors fight for a £17,000 treasure.

It's become a familiar pattern in auction houses across the U.K. From the largest international giants to the smallest provincial room and everything in between, the Oriental boom continues to drive the market.

Gorringes' latest monthly sale on June 29 proved no different, with a number of Chinese artefacts leaving the auction block for impressive "multi-estimate prices". According to their report, "the saleroom buzzed with the presence of Chinese voices often as not bidding against Chinese telephone and internet bidders".

The most notable sale of the auction went to a Chinese carved celadon green jade vase and cover, decorated with an archaic mask and encircled with a dragon chasing the pearl of wisdom.

The 6" piece was offered with an estimated value of £500 - £700, but when the hammer went down after some furious bidding it was sold for a remarkable £17,000 (more than 24 times the high estimate).

Similarly impressive was a 12" 19th century Chinese Canton carved ivory wrist rest. Decorated with figures and pavilions, the item was also placed up for sale with an estimated price of £500 - £700. Moments later, buyers in the room watched as it sold for £12,000, 17 times its estimated value.

The auction also saw the sale of a Chinese blue and white brush washer for £16,000, 13 times higher than its top estimate of £800 - £1,200, and a blue and white 5" stem cup sold for £12,000, smashing its estimate of £300 - £500.

This stem cup smashed its estimate of £300 - £500 to sell for £12,000

Perhaps the most remarkable point about the sale is that none of these items were in perfect condition - some featured several small chips, whilst others were marked or damaged by slight hairline cracks.

Chinese collectors are seemingly willing to pay whatever it takes to return these ancient artefacts to their homeland - and condition isn't necessarily an issue.

The competition between rival collectors in the country is creating a buzz in auction rooms around the world. And anyone with a collection of Chinese artefacts is perfectly placed to take advantage of the booming market.

Last year the sales of art and collectibles in China and Hong Kong grew to $10.8 billion, an increase of more than 138% in just 12 months. And as reporters run out of superlatives to describe the growth of the Chinese markets, experts agree that if the current figures are anything to go by, the country's super-wealthy collectors might only just be getting started....


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