Record Breaking Cup Sold At Sothebys'
During the last 10 years those of us in the business have watched, with admittedly jaws dropped, as record after record were smashed to bit with ever higher prices being paid by newly wealthy Chinese collectors for the rarities of the Chinese art and antiques world. Well, it just happened again!

This week on April 8, 2014, Sotheby's Hong Kong sold an exceedingly rare "Chicken Cup" for an astonishing $36,000,000.

The cup thought to be one of just a handful of known examples painted in "Doucai" colors and measuring just 3.1" in diameter hit the big numbers. As far as anyone knows, their are just 15 of these in existence and all but four are in museum collections.

The Cup, which depicts a rooster and hen with its chicks is a metaphorical expression of the emperor with their subjects. Made during the during the reign of the Ming Dynasty's Chengua Emperor, who ruled from 1465 to 1487.

As many have said, including Nicholas Chow, Sotheby's deputy chairman for Asia:
"There's no more legendary object in the history of Chinese porcelain." 
He is right! This is the Hope Diamond of Chinese art, for now anyway. But these records have been getting broken with increasing frequency and this transaction will no doubt flush out other rare examples of porcelain due to the strength of the market.
The Buyer Shanghai based art dealer Liu Yiqian
The 50 year old buyer is Liu Yiqian a former cab driver in mainland China who's made a fortune with China's new open economy,  is now an art dealer.  With an estimated net worth of nearly one billion dollars ranking him among the top 200 wealthiest people in China he embarked on opening his own Shanghai museum, where this cup will no doubt be displayed as one of the museum's great treasures.

Listing From Sotheby's Hong Kong Catalog:

AN EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT AND FINE DOUCAI 'CHICKEN CUP'
MARK AND PERIOD OF CHENGHUA
arguably the most celebrated porcelain throughout the centuries, delicately potted with flawless translucent sides flaring out from the countersunk base to a subtly everted rim, the exterior painted in faint outlines of cobalt blue under the glaze and picked out in overglaze enamels of yellow, green, light and dark olive green, and two tones of iron red with a lively continuous scene of a red rooster and his golden hen out in a garden with their chicks, one side of the cup depicting the rooster with his head turned back to see the hen pecking at a red-winged insect on
the ground as one of the chicks looks on, while the other two chicks chase each other around a small patch of leaves, the reverse with the proud rooster arching his neck forward raising his head with his beak slightly opened as if to crow, while the hen tends to their brood of chicks, the hen hunched over pecking at a red-winged insect on the ground as one of the chicks stands on her back and the other two peep for attention in the foreground, the two scenes divided on one side by jagged underglaze blue rocks and yellow lily flowers with bright green leaves, the other side with a rose bush issuing brilliant red flowers and lush leaves next to a blue garden rock, the entire cup painted in an artless style further reflected in the six-character reign mark in underglaze blue framed within double squares inscribed on the countersunk base, the immaculate porcelain body covered with a characteristic silky glaze, pooling on the base slightly veiling the mark
8.2 cm., 3 1/4  in.

It will be interesting to see what comes along next....



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