Chinese jade bear sculpture sells for $8m at Elite Decorative Arts

A jade bear sculpture from eastern China's Han dynasty was the star attraction at Elite Decorative Arts' multi-estate sale on December 10 in Florida.

At 14 inches tall, the bear is the era's largest known jade sculpture, and achieved a price worthy of its rarity: $8m.

The solid nephrite bear is believed to have been buried alongside an important figure or ruler between 475 BC and 220 AD.

The cup-shaped opening at the top of the head suggests it was made as a stand or base for an object such as a flagpole.

Chinese Nephrite jade bear
The Han dynasty bear was sculpted before 220 AD

These are exciting times for owners of rare Chinese artefacts and art.

The desire among China's growing number of high-net worth individuals for the best pieces from their homeland has seen many notable items return east recently after several years abroad.

Auctioneer Christie's has noted as such, with its first half art sales in Asia up 48% on the same period in 2010 to £296m.

The successful bidder on this item has chosen to remain anonymous.

The sale also featured a Russian silver enamelled box, made by late 19th and early 20th century silversmith Fedor Ruckert, and featuring a miniature landscape painting in the style of 19th century Russian artist Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin. It sold for $862,500.

An 18th century six-piece Chinese relief carved ivory and cloisonné tea set achieved $10,620 at the auction, whose 300 lots grossed $9m.

Chris Hayes of Elite Decorative Arts commented: "This sale did as we'd hoped. Prices were high and 80% of the lots sold."

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