Chinese imperial throne breaks record

Nicolas Chow of Sotheby's, pictured, said mainland Chinese buyers were
An imperial “dragon” throne owned by a Chinese emperor set the world auction record for Chinese furniture Thursday, selling for about US $11 million.

There was frenzied bidding among mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan collectors at the Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong. Thirty-six bids came in 10 minutes, with tension building as a new telephone bidder jumped into the competition. “These mainland (China) buyers, mainland collectors are ready to pay the premium it takes to secure an object of this quality,” said Nicolas Chow, international head of Chinese ceramics and art at Sotheby’s. The winning bid of US $11,068,193 (HK $85,780,000) was by a private Shanghai businessman. It was nearly triple the estimate of US $3.9 million (HK $30 million), Sotheby’s said. Watch why the throne is so prized “This is the place from which the emperor conducted his stately affairs and received foreign envoys and basically, this is a seat of power,” Chow said. “No one else should have sat down in this place.” The throne belonged to Emperor Qianlong, who ruled from 1736-1795.

The 4.6 foot-long (140 centimeters) piece is considered rare and prized because of the zitan wood from which it was carved. It also features carved panels, curved legs and an elaborate “Five Dragon” carving on the front and back. The number five represents the “five blessings” of old age, wealth, health, virtue and peaceful death, according to Sotheby’s. Other pieces that sold Thursday included a celadon ground butterfly vase. The Qianlong period piece sold for US $2.74 million (HK $21.3 million).