Qing Dynasty Chinese table clock chimes at $3.8m

The country estate of socialite and vintner Patricia Kluge went under the hammer at Sotheby's last week (June 8-9) - with global bidders pushing the value of a Qing Dynasty Chinese table clock to almost $3.8m.

The Sotheby's auction was held at Albemarle House in Charlottesville, US. The featured paintings, furniture and other items were sold in the wake of Ms Kluge's high-profile divorce from her media mogul husband, John Kluge (pronounced "Kloog-ee").

The imperial tribute ormolu, enamel and past-set quarter striking automaton table clock was manufactured in the Guangzhou Workshops during the era of China's Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (1736-1795).

Not only was the table clock the sale's expected centrepiece, it more-than tripled its estimated pre-sale value of $1m as telephone bidders from all over the world scrambled to get involved.

It eventually sold to a Chinese collector - final bid: $3,778,500 - who, just moments before, also won a nearly 200-year-old gilt-brass-and-enamel timepiece for $1.2m. Both prices include Buyer's Premium.

In total, Sotheby's had expected a sales total of $9m over the two days. But this was surpassed by the close of the sale's first day, on Tuesday, with $15.2m raised by the auction's conclusion.

This imperial tribute Qing Dynasty clock sold for almost $3.8m

Other highlights included a pair of classical landscapes by Hubert Robert, sold for $434,500 - $130,000 above its pre-sale estimate - and a George II mahogany chest attributed to cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale, realising $338,500.

In April, Sotheby's offered magnificent jewels from the collection of Patricia Kluge including an impressive Pair of Platinum and Diamond Pendant-Earclips, set with almost 64 carats of pear-shaped diamonds (estimated at $600-800,000).

Kruge's automaton table clock is the latest in a long line of Qing Dynasty artefacts to command large amounts at auction. In April, a jade seal from the Qing Dynasty era sold for HK$95.86m (US$12.4m): a world record for any white jade item or imperial seal at auction.

Elsewhere, in September of last year, in Hong Kong, an 1897 Qing Dynasty Three Cents Red Revenue stamp sold for the highest amount ever paid for a Chinese Stamp.

One of only 50 such stamps to ever be created - of which only 32 can be accounted for today -  it far exceeded its $250,000 estimate to bring a World Record-breaking $331,671.

More recently, a Silver Pattern Proof Dollar from 1916 - when China was in transition from the last of the Qing dynasty Emperors to its Republic - sold at Baldwin's, earlier this month.

Depicting Yuan Shih-Kai in military uniform, the excellent condition coin more than doubled its $15,000 estimate, bringing $32,000.


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