Christie's New York auction sees new house record of $3.3m for online sale of rare Chinese bronzes

Christie's Asian Art week offered a positive reflection of the continuing growth of art collecting with the sale of The Sze Yuan Tang Archaic Bronzes from the Anthony Hardy Collection.

The record breaking Fangyi
Not only did the auction see a sales total of £13.35m ($20.75m) but a new house record was set for the most expensive item sold online by Christie's.

The item in question was a rare Chinese bronze wine vessel or Fangyi from the late Shang dynasty.

The striking and heavily decorated container was a prized ritual vessel back in the 12-11th century and carried a pre-auction estimate price of £771,500 - 1,156,000 ($1,200,000 - 1,800,000.)

But this estimate was quickly surpassed, as the piece sold to an online bidder for £2.1m ($3.3m).

The price smashed the previous house record for the most expensive item sold online.

This had been set back in April 2008 with the £812,000 ($1.27m) sale of a Stradavari violin.

In total, an impressive 22% of lots sold at the auction went to online bidders in a sale that further demonstrated the positive effect of online bidding services in the collectibles market.

As Michael O'Neal, Senior Vice President and Director of Digital Media at Christie's, commented:

 "Today's new house record is a sign that Christie's clients are as comfortable bidding online as they are with bidding in person in our salerooms, on the phone, or by absentee ballot."

Other highlights at Thursday's auction included the sale of a very rare and important bronze ritual food vessel or Gui from the early to middle period of the Western Zhou dynasty of the 10th century BC. This special piece sold for a similarly impressive £1,916,210 ($2,994,500).

Elsewhere, a very rare bronze ritual tripod food vessel or Li which dated back to the Shang Dynasty of 12th century BC sold for more than double the $700,000 - 900,000 ($450,000 - 580,000) target, with a final price of £1,378,690 ($2,154,500).

Another rare bronze ritual wine vessel and cover or You which came from the Middle Western Zhou Dynasty of the 10th century BC also sold for £1,271,180 ($1,986,500) in what proved a highly popular auction both within the venue and online.

Christie's are currently the only international auction house to offer real-time online bidding in all its sale categories.

However, with 2009 alone seeing a total of £43.5m ($68.4m) bid online through their site, it may not be long before the competitors follow suit.

All of which is set to make the market for buying investment grade collectibles increasingly accessible for collectors and new investors alike.



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