Bonhams Hong Kong today celebrated the first-ever "Golden Gavel Auction" in its history, when part of the world's finest collection of important Chinese snuff bottles, the Mary and George Bloch Collection, sold 100% and achieved world record prices.
Against presale estimates of HK$20,000,000 (£1.8m), the sale total was HK$66,146,800 (£5.8m), with every one of the 140 rare bottles successfully sold.
This figure was double the previous sale total for a single-owner snuff bottle auction, held in New York on 19 March 2008.
Auctioneer Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonhams Asia, commented: "This is the finest auction of Chinese art which Bonhams has held in Asia, and the record prices proved that the market for Chinese art remains very strong for the most important pieces."
As expected, the star of the auction was one of the most beautiful bottles in private hands ever made for the Imperial Court of 18th Century China.
Estimated at HK$1,800,000 - 3,000,000, international bidders from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the UK battled the bidding up to a final figure of HK$9,280,000 (US$1,191,552), a new world record price for a snuff bottle.
Other record prices included:
- An inscribed nephrite pebble-material snuff bottle which went for a world record price for any jade snuff bottle at HK$6,032,000 (estimate: HK$1,000,000 - 2,000,000).
- An Imperial "famille-rose" 'bird on branch' enamelled glass snuff bottle, Qianlong mark and period, sold at HK$5,248,000 (estimate: HK$2,000,000 - 4,00,000) - a world record for any enamelled glass snuff bottle.
- An Imperial famille-rose poreclain bottle, Qianlong mark and period, similar to others in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, which sold at HK$3,960,000 (estimate: HK$1,400,000 - 2,000,000), a world record for any enamelled porcelain snuff bottle.
- A double-overlay sapphire-blue and white glass 'dragon' snuff bottle which sold at HK$672,000 (estimate: HK$220,000 - 350,000), a world record price for any glass overlay snuff bottle;
- An inside-painted rock-crystal snuff bottle which sold at HK$336,000 (estimate: HK$60,000 - 120,000), a world record for any inside-painted snuff bottle by Gan Xuanwen.
Many of the finest bottles at Bonhams were bid for and bought by active collectors from Mainland China, the first time that such strong demand from Chinese buyers has been seen anywhere in the world for Imperial Chinese snuff bottles.
Bonhams' Head of Chinese Ceramic and Works of Art in Hong Kong Julian King, who prepared the auction, said: "Today saw a new buying power in the world market for Imperial Chinese art. This marked an important change in the whole structure of prices for the finest pieces at Bonhams."