Emperor Qianlong's elephants lead the charge of jade trinkets to $20.5m

Once more, extraordinary Chinese jade creations have brought some extraordinary prices at auction, in this case at Woolley and Wallis where a range of trinkets have sold for £12.5m ($20.5m).

The items were part of a collection owned by Mary Marten, a Goddaughter of the Queen Mother and were held at the 18th century mansion Crichel House - which itself is only worth £5m (excluding the surrounding land).

Top lots included an ornate jade bell, sold for £2.4m, a pair of green jade elephants which brought £1.2m and a white jade deer which achieved £3.9m. The elephants sat either side of one of the thrones of Emperor Qianlong (pictured), from whose reign the most valuable items came.

There is a strong move from China to recover its heritage. The auctioneer noted that whilst the room was busy there were also many bidders calling in from Hong Kong and mainland China. Three Mandarin speakers were on hand to facilitate the sale.

Jade Elephants
Heavyweight investments... The jade elephants of Emperor Qianlong's throne
(Click to enlarge)

Most of the items were sold to private collectors but some, including the bell and elephants, are now believed to be in Chinese museums. The auctions took place at the end of last year, but the money has only just changed hands.

There have been a series of extraordinary sales of Chinese jade artifacts over recent years:  a set of Chinese teapots sold for $2.19m at Sotheby's recently, there was an extraordinary sale at Bainbridge auctioneers in which an £53.1m vase was sold (though there has been much legal wrangling over the deal) and famously a vase used as an umbrella stand brought over $1m.


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