Chinese Song dynasty bowl sets new record at auction

Sotheby’s Asia Deputy Chairman Nicolas Chow holds the Ruyao washer The Ruyao washer is one of just five pieces of this kind in private hands

A rare Chinese bowl from the Song dynasty has sold for $26.7m (£16.8m) at auction in Hong Kong, exceeding all expectations.

The sale of the 900-year-old Ruyao washer set a new record for a piece of ceramic from the Song dynasty, according to Sotheby's auction house.

Ru ceramics are named after one of five large kilns that operated at the time and are the rarest in China.

The flower-shaped bowl was bought by an anonymous phone bidder

It came from a private Japanese collection.

"The piece is possibly the greatest masterpiece of Song ceramic that we have ever offered in Hong Kong," said Sotheby's Asia deputy chairman Nicolas Chow.

"It is a piece of Ruyao which is probably the most fabled type of Chinese ceramic ever to have been created."

It is estimated that there are only 79 complete pieces in the world, just five of which are in private hands.

This is the only one in an organic floral shape with an opaque glaze, and its pre-sale estimates valued it at about a third of the final sale price.

Hong Kong has established itself as one of the major auction hubs alongside New York and London.

Correspondents say that the interest in the Ruyao washer and the price is testament to the vitality of Asia's art market, which has witnessed explosive growth over the last 10 years.

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